I was driving by one of our local "big box" stores the other day when I noticed lights and tall green things sitting inside the garden department.
Yep. The Christmas trees are already out.
I enjoy Christmas when it's time to celebrate, but at the same time, with hectic schedules and being overrun with the sights and sounds of the season beginning in late September, it often becomes less merry with each passing year.
It has made this special day become just too much of a hastle, preparing large meals for family and friends, making sure all of our presents are purchased and wrapped, sending out cards with the hopes you didn't leave anyone off the list this year. And that's not the point of the holiday anyway.
Christmas is supposed to be about a celebration of life, finding ways to help others who are in need, being grateful for what we have and sharing time with those about whom we care.
It's not about receiving a certain number of packages or that brand new toy. It's not about cookies or turkey dinners. It's not about trying to outdo your neighbors with decorations and lights.
Yet, the aspects of the modern Christmas are the ones shining the brightest in most communities.
Christmas existed for many years without the need for large gifts, fancy celebrations and the like. We have to remember that, even today, there are many who are unable to buy gifts for each other. They spend time together, possibly have a simple meal and celebrate however they may be able to do so.
I enjoy being able to give gifts and try to spread a little cheer with those in my life. At the same time, we all run into that point where it seems as if there just isn't enough time in the day to get everything accomplished and something has to give.
I haven't even started to think about Christmas shopping, or updating my card list. I?gave up eating cookies and candies and other delicious, sugary, pastry like things. That means I don't have to worry about baking, or the like.
I still have cards left over from last year, so if I do send them don't be too surprised to see the same thing this time around.
I think it's just a situation where we all put too much pressure on ourselves to make things as perfect as they can be, when we know there is no such thing.
Something is bound to happen to ruin our expectations. The turkey will get overcooked. A particular item won't be in stock. Someone will have to work.
So, why do we do it? Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to celebrate in a way we know will only end up driving us crazy?
Decorations and fancy lights are nice, but they aren't necessary. We'll put decorations outside, but big light displays have not gone up for years (mostly because I get vertigo trying to climb ladders).
We usually have dinner, spend time with family and such, maybe see a movie or a play, or drive to Oglebay or a similar attraction.
But, at the same time, I remember when I was a kid and doing things like walking around Colliers after the December Cub Scout meeting, singing carols for the neighborhood.
I see staff at local businesses give up their own opportunities to try and help those who will be without.
I see people spending hours standing out in the cold to raise money for the Salvation Army.
Last year, the Christmas spirit grew exponentially in Weirton, simply by adding a few extra activities on the day of the Christmas parade, providing an opportunity for kids to meet Santa Claus and benefit the United Way, donate to local organizations in an effort to help local children in need, and so much more.
That's what I?try to hold on to when all the commercialism starts to get me down.
It's not about seeing Christmas trees set up for purchase in early October or running yourself tired trying to make everyone's wishes come true.
Maybe it's not so much an issue of not celebrating as it is trying to find a different way to do so.
(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)