It seems as if we jump directly from Halloween to Christmas. Thanksgiving is sort of squeezed into the aisle in between the Halloween costumes and early Christmas ornaments. Just recently, we were at the River Crossing Mall in Macon and our daughter said incredulously, “Is that Christmas music I’m hearing?” Even a ten-year-old recognizes that Christmas is starting earlier and earlier. It was indeed Christmas music on a bright shiny early October day. It just didn’t feel right. In some ways, we have decided to not jump into the early Christmas celebrations. On Fridays, we pick a family movie and have decided that any Christmassy Netflix movies will not be watched. At least, not until December.
But in other ways, we are starting Christmas early this year. First of all, I love crackers. Not the edible kind, but the fun novelty kind. Crackers are an English Christmas tradition. A cracker consists of a cardboard tube wrapped in a brightly decorated twist of paper, making it resemble an oversized candy wrapper. When a cracker is pulled by two people, it splits unevenly. The split is accompanied by a small bang or snapping sound produced by the effect of friction on a chemically impregnated card strip. Crackers are typically pulled at the Christmas dinner table or at parties. The contents are a colored tissue paper crown, a small toy or trinket and a motto, riddle, or joke. My grown children know that they have to put on the paper crowns at least for the traditional family dinner photo. I have to say, the crowns do not stay on for the entire meal any more. But at least they humor me for the picture.
I usually order crackers early online in bulk and hand them out around Christmas. A few weeks ago while waiting in line to check out at Barnes & Noble, I glanced over at the Christmas sale table and there they were, boxes of really nice crackers. Really nice to me means that the little gifts inside are not the typical cheap plastic toys. These have the good stuff inside such as tiny screw drivers (I have some from last year and they work), nail clippers, a pen, tiny stapler, small silver frame etc. I happened to have a percentage off coupon, so I got them for a steal. I snapped up about eight boxes knowing that they were still there because people didn’t know what they were, and how much fun they are. The store clerk said they would be getting more in before Christmas.
Not only do I purchase Christmas crackers early, but for the first time, we will put our Christmas tree up before Thanksgiving. I may even make paper chains and hang them around the room. Paper chains are an English Christmas tradition I grew up with. I haven’t made them in years. This year, we will have a Thanksgiving/Christmas. This year is different. My oldest son, a helicopter pilot in the Navy, will be home for Thanksgiving, but probably not for Christmas. He’ll be deployed to the Middle East and will be at sea for a long time. So, when he flies out to Thomaston from his home in San Diego, he’ll find his room all decorated with Christmas lights, a tree, and maybe paper chains. My son Dave, an Adam Scott look alike, flies the MH-60R “Romeo” helicopter. I’m going to buy helicopter ornaments online, to make the surprise tailor made. So, what do you do when you have a son who will potentially be heading for Iran, and goodness knows where else? You have a Thanksgiving meal with Christmas crackers to pull. What this really means is that this Christmas my grown son will be headed out to a hot spot in this world. It’s dangerous. He knows it. I know it. But while he is still stateside, we are going to have a great Thanksgiving meal, pull a Christmas cracker, read a motto, eagerly see what “gift” we get, and wear a silly crown. Just as we have ever since he was a little boy.