It’s too early!

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There’s a natural order to the universe. Stars are above us, ground is below, the sun comes up every morning, sets every night, and Christmas is in December. Or at least it was.

Months ago, if you took a trip to our downtown, you’d see storefronts already decorated with red ribbons, white snowflakes, presents, and good old Santa. One corner store even started to decorate windows in July. Christmas in July – it’s just too early.

Call me old-fashioned, but before we celebrate Christmas we should first enjoy Independence Day, Halloween, and then Thanksgiving.

On the first of October, I visited the giant hardware store with the orange roof with our granddaughters, Little One and Sweet Caroline. The trip was to buy another tarp to cover the ever-growing woodpile in our backyard, thanks to the many storms that hit our area lately. The girls simply loved all the Halloween decorations, especially the giant six-foot-tall T-Rex. We left the store with a new tarp and the T-Rex.

A week later, I returned for another, only to find a five-foot Santa in its place on the sales floor. The last T-Rex must’ve eaten all the Halloween decorations and then stomped off. Halloween was gone and had been replaced with the red, white, and green of Christmas. Christmas in mid October — it’s just too early.

Once home, I checked the mailbox and then carefully started to venture into our backyard. Had to break the bad news to the girls and the T-Rex. Seems he wasn’t getting a playmate after all.

Suddenly, I stopped in my tracks, letting out a scream that would have impressed, and even frightened, him. I held in my hands mail for the day: a power bill, a water bill, assortment of junk mail (we use as fire starter for our campfires) and one red and green envelope. There, in my hands, was our first Christmas card of the season. It’s 80 degrees outside and it’s just too early for Christmas.

Christmas fell on a Sunday only one time while we lived at 110 Flamingo Street. We weren’t allowed to open any presents until after church services. During those seven magical years, my three brothers, The Sister and I spent growing up on Flamingo, our parents took us to church every Sunday.

Each time we sat in the front row. Guess Dad wanted to make sure God and Preacher Jim saw us. That, and if we fell asleep, the entire congregation would watch as we toppled to the floor.

Fear of that toppling was a great deterrent not to nod off and pay attention to what Preacher Jim had to say. And it worked. I never nodded off, except for that one time Christmas actually fell on a Sunday.

On Christmas Day, the church service wasn’t a normal hour long. It was almost two hours. For a 7-year-old, waiting to open presents for that long on Christmas morning seemed like forever, especially if you had been up all night waiting on Santa like I had.

Halfway through the service, I nodded off. Guess who fell face first into the Nativity stable display? That was the first year Christmas actually came too early for me.

So enjoy all the holidays, the traditions surrounding each one, and the special time with family. Christmas comes on the 25th of December and will be here before you realize it, so don’t rush it by buying presents in July or trying to stay up all night waiting on Santa.

If you do, you just may end up like I did so many years ago. Even though the congregation in attendance that Sunday may have long forgotten, trust me, I never will. Christmas for me came too early that year. Waking up face first in a Nativity scene isn’t as glamorous as it sounds.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]