PYE – Premature Yuletide Excitement. Diagnosed with levels 1-5. One being, smiling when you see the Christmas decorations at Walmart in October, but walking away. Five being guzzling Halloween egg nog (yes it exists), bringing out all of the decorations, and ringing a bell dressed as Santa for the trick-or-treaters approaching your house.
This is a serious affliction, folks. I love the Christmas Season, perhaps beyond what is healthy. And when something is unhealthy, there have to be rules and restrictions.
There is an abhorrent movement known as Christmas in July. Rankin and Bass even made a Rudolph special for it. It’s awful. It involves Ethel Merman as Annie Oakley. I have avoided Christmas in July like the plague for years, but a few years ago, I gave in. The illness manifested itself by me wasting a work day watching a stream of vintage Christmas-themed commercials on YouTube.
I’ve mentioned this in Holiday Nostalgia: A Cautionary Tale. It sucked me into a destructive cycle of powerful nostalgia. At some point, I had to step away. I went out into the parking lot. I could smell the approach of summer rain. The asphalt was hot, but the temperature had dropped a little. Fat summer raindrops spread over the parking lot. Just enough to make splotchy patterns on dusty cars and on the ground. It wasn’t winter at all. It wasn’t even fall! I realized that if I continued to carry on this way, my Christmas would be ruined! I snapped out of my PYE state and made vows never to allow this to happen again.
PYE can destroy a Christmas for me. Do you remember ever peaking at your presents under the tree or in closets that parents thought were safe hiding places? Do you remember what Christmas morning was like? You had to pretend to be surprised and happy. The terrible. harmful effects of PYE. You know you’ve got it when Christmas finally comes and your like “Meh”. That’s a horrible feeling.
I joke about it with my choir. Choir directors have to learn how to handle PYE because we start planning Christmas music in August. We start rehearsing Christmas Cantatas and Lessons and Carols services as soon as the kids go back to school. It’s something that I have become accustomed to. I’ve learned to detach emotionally from the music until after Thanksgiving.
In our cantata, there is one number that weaves in Silent Night. I tried to skip over it, but they caught me. I had to explain myself.
“My father was a pastor, and I went to many of his wedding rehearsals. A wedding can be a complicated thing, especially a church wedding. It requires rehearsal. But there’s one part that my father cannot rehearse. He’ll walk them through the liturgy and the vows, but he always stops short. He will never say the words Father, Son, and Holy spirit because it invokes God’s marital blessing too early. Well that’s what Silent Night is for me. It is the last song we sing before midnight on Christmas Eve. I just can’t bear to sing it!”
I will not celebrate a single element of Christmas until Thanksgiving evening, which is when we watch one big funny Christmas movie like Christmas Vacation or Elf…but never a movie like It’s a Wonderful Life or White Christmas. After Thanksgiving, I can watch cheesy Hallmark and Lifetime movies, but the biggies must wait until the final days. I don’t want to ruin the enchilada platter by getting full on chips! You know what I mean. No filling up on popcorn before the previews begin. This requires discipline! RIGID, UNSWERVING, DISCIPLINE. Please offer your sympathies to my wife for having to living with this #mywifesaysimcomplicated mess every year!
The fact that I’m writing should concern you. It’s a kind of mania that, although may never lead to hospitalization, could end in some sort of holiday crisis down the road. So far, though, I am on track. I am fully immersed in my other favorite holiday: Halloween. Why just last night, with mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap, we had just settled down to watch John Carpenter’s 1978 slasher classic “Halloween”.