Kathy Manos Penn is a native of the “Big Apple,” who settled in the “Peach City” – Atlanta. A former English teacher now happily retired from a corporate career in communications, she writes a weekly column for the Dunwoody Crier and the Highlands Newspaper. Read her blogs and columns and purchase her books, “The Ink Penn: Celebrating the Magic in the Everyday” and “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch,” on her website theinkpenn.com or Amazon.
Here's how it started. First, I smiled when a friend emailed just past Halloween that she'd like to have a few girls over for cocktails but needed to apologize and warn us that her Christmas decorations were already up. Then, my husband and I were driving down the street and saw a yard with two lovely, lighted reindeer standing next to a huge pumpkin. I commented, "I know the stores already have their holiday decorations up, but this is quite possibly the earliest I've seen a yard decorated."
It was November 7th.
Next, I laughed when I saw a Facebook cartoon depicting a turkey proclaiming that November belongs to turkeys-not elves-and got a kick out of an indignant letter to Miss Manners in the Sunday paper. The writer wanted Miss Manners to back her up in declaring that decorating for Christmas this early is just plain wrong. Wisely, Miss Manners said it was not for her nor the reader to make that decision.
There I sat, someone who's never decorated until after Thanksgiving, suddenly considering joining the early decorating contingent. Ever since I'd received the email from my friend, the urge to decorate had been growing, and my spontaneous search for a Santa hat only made it worse. I wanted to take a holiday photo to send out and had to drag out all my decorations in search of the hat. I never did find the hat, but I did find myself thinking, "Gee, these boxes are spread all over the guest room now, so why not commence decorating?"
The only thing holding me back was knowing the housekeepers were coming the next week, and I always prefer to decorate a clean house. After they left, however, all bets were off.
Because we finally succumbed to getting an artificial tree a few years ago, keeping a tree alive for six weeks wasn't an issue. I was having a hard time coming up with a good reason not to go for it. After all, I'm like a child when it comes to Christmas. I love the decorations, the baking, and especially the music.
Fortunately for my husband, when I play my collection of Christmas CDs in my office all day long for weeks on end, he doesn't have to hear them. In years past, he's had to listen to them at least on Saturday and Sunday mornings with his coffee and newspaper. He'd still have to do that, except that our ancient stereo bit the dust this year. That means I can no longer pile five CDs in the CD player and put them on repeat.
I have loads of "Christmas music with no words,"
as my sister calls it-Mannheim Steamroller, Windham Hill, George Winston-and can easily listen to those peaceful sounds nonstop. Of course, I also have plenty of traditional Christmas collections with Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, and even Perry Como.
It was thinking of the music that did it. I could hear the song "I need a little Christmas" playing in my head, except the words were, "I need a little magic, a little joy, a little counterbalance to the nightly news." And that, my friends, is how it came to pass that our tree went up November 14th.
Find Kathy's new book "Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch" and her collection of columns, "The Ink Penn: Celebrating the Magic in the Everyday," on Amazon and her website email@example.com.