Russ Batenhorst Official starts to Christmas season never stops

I’m so confused. I was watching one of the TV Christmas specials a couple of nights ago. It was the one where they lit the giant Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center in New York. After the thousands of lights on the tree were illuminated, one of the hosts of the program proclaimed that they had thus “officially begun the Christmas season.”

And here I thought it had already begun.

I walked through a big department store the day after Halloween, and what had been aisles of costumes and candy the day before had been transformed into a winter wonderland of Christmas trees and decorations. I thought to myself, it appears the Christmas season has begun.

The week before Thanksgiving, the annual Festival of Lights in downtown Hastings brightened up the area with the lighting of lights lining businesses throughout the area. And I’m pretty sure I heard someone say that was the official beginning of the Christmas season.

Millions of people tuned in on Thanksgiving Day for the tradition of watching the Macy’s parade, also in New York. Santa was riding the last float of the day, and as he headed to Macy’s at the end of the parade (doesn’t he have elves to do that for him?), the conclusion was drawn that the Christmas season had begun.

The clock wasn’t even allowed to strike midnight on Thanksgiving Day before stores everywhere were opened and packed with people in search of big bargains for gift giving, although I suspect many were taking care of themselves first. And we were told then that the shopping mania of Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday officially started the Christmas season.

They lit the first candle of the Advent wreath in churches everywhere this past Sunday. That’s our reminder that just three more Sundays remain until Christmas week. For centuries, it was the lighting of that candle that first signified that the Christmas season had begun.

So, sorry to you guys in New York this week. I know how you think your city sets the standard for all the rest of us to follow, but you’re a little behind the curve this time.

I don’t know when the “official” start to the Christmas season was, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just this week. Heck, I’ve even bought a couple of presents already. (Well, OK, I was along with my wife when she bought them.)

I don’t think you’d want to wait around for me to declare the season open.


I’ve already broken one of the cardinal rules of Christmas decorating. Rule number 4287 states “check all your outdoor Christmas lights by plugging them in before you hang them on the house.” The key word of that last sentence is “before.”

Since I didn’t adhere to that rule, there are a couple of dead strands of Christmas lights adorning the edge of our roof. It was pretty much getting to the end of the day Sunday before I made this discovery, which explains why I just walked away in disgust, muttering a few words that I hope the neighbor kids weren’t close enough to hear.

Sometime soon, I’ll get the replacements purchased. But since daylight is lasting about an hour-and-a-half per day it seems right now, I may have to wait until the weekend if I want to put them up in the light of day. Which is why I’ll be outside hanging Christmas lights in temperatures roughly 40 to 50 degrees colder than when the dead ones were originally put in place. Surely anyone driving by will have a good laugh at my expense while patting themselves on the back for putting their working lights up in shirtsleeve weather just a mere one week earlier.

My house is a long ways from reaching Clark Griswold standards when it comes to outside lighting, but I do want to get this one strand working. It will join the one small tree partially draped in those nets of colored lights.

It shouldn’t take long on Saturday — I’m not staying out there too long with forecasted temperatures in the teens, but at least I’ll be done.

And then, I’ll declare the Christmas season has officially begun.

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