We were talking last night about the pleasures of Thanksgiving, not the least of which is, despite retailers' best efforts, it's a holiday that resists commercialization. The menu is set and the elements humble. The bird, the stuffing, root vegetables, cranberries, gravy, a bread basket, even the pie, it's all of it affordable. If you go a little nuts, the greatest damage is likely to the kitchen (and the waistine) and you've still fed a hungry horde AND come away with a week's worth of leftovers.
No such luck with Christmas. You don't get to suddenly see the days are so short, a few strings of lights will ward off the early dusk. The luxury of realizing you physically crave the holiday's rich, deep colors, which then sends you to the closet or basement or attic where the decorations are stored, is gone. Instead, marketing masterminds play a cynical game of chicken -- if Thanksgiving's not too soon to decorate for Christmas, how about mid-November? Or Halloween? Then they mug you with trees and stars and stockings and carols, out of time and out of season, dangle mistletoe over your head so they can lift your wallet while you're looking for the kiss.
The meme is that holiday blues are about expectations and family (or the lack thereof) but I think it's more primal. We're wired to light, tied to its ebb and flow, to its spectrum which, when shattered, spills color. I think we need to feel the fading of days, feel the dark arrive a bit sooner each night. Then, we choose when the first lights go up, when the first candles get lit, when the recipes come out, when the wreaths get hung.
Christmas in our own time, at our own pace, on our own terms. Now there's a gift.