November 20, 2013

Christmas seems to be all around

By SUSAN TOBIAS, Pinch of Time

---- — Some very serious events are going on in this world right now, but what is the topic I hear the most when I’m in the stores? Debate over whether people should put up their Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving.

I was shopping last week, and what did I hear on the speaker? “Silver bells, silver bells, it’s Christmas time in the city.” I was a little surprised. I have to admit I am not in the Christmas frame of mind yet.

A woman walked past me, talking to herself: “Christmas? Why are they singing Christmas carols before Thanksgiving? I can’t stand this!”

I wanted to tell her that many stores had their Christmas decorations on the shelves before Halloween, but that would have been cruel.

How things have changed! When I was a kid, in the Dark Ages according to my grandchildren, we didn’t think about Christmas until around mid-December. Then we began to make our list for Santa.

It was a magic time. Santa came on WICY radio in Malone every day and picked a few letters to read. I sat, holding my breath, hoping that he would say, “Well, little Susie wants a walking doll and a tea set.” It was the 1950s. To get either one would have been great. Year after year, until I was about 9, I’d listen for my name, but it never happened.

Being disgusted at not hearing my letter read, I decided I would prove once and for all that Santa wasn’t real. One year my Christmas list included a beautiful pink jewelry box. When I didn’t hear my name on the radio, I started to have my doubts. I poked around my mother’s closet when she was gone, thinking she may just be Santa.

I wasn’t expecting to find anything, but was I wrong. There it was. The most beautiful pink jewelry box I had ever seen. I quickly put it back in the cardboard box and pushed it back on the shelf, under the blankets.

Come Christmas morning, I had to appear surprised when I opened that gift, but I guess my reaction wasn’t good enough. My mother whispered, “You snooped and found that, didn’t you, Susan?”

I put on a good act, full of objections, but thankfully she just nodded her head and let the subject drop. Taught me a lesson about snooping. Also convinced me that I had been living with Santa and Mrs. Claus all my life.

Of course, Santa magically visited on Christmas Eve when my children were young. If parents were paid for all the hours they spend putting together toys for Christmas, we could retire at a very young age; and wrapping presents seemed to never end. I was so happy when gift bags came along. I’d like to kiss the person who invented them.

With the cost of gifts today, I completely understand why stores have to display Christmas items so early. It takes a lot more money to buy that coveted gift now than it ever did in my youth. So many gifts were handmade back then, worked on all year long. It is different today. (We are so busy, and modern technology was supposed to make our lives easier.) I admire anyone who takes the time to make gifts. Many become keepsakes and last for generations.

I have to admit, though, that I am really enjoying watching all the Christmas and holiday movies on Hallmark Channel. I’m a hopeless romantic, always looking for the warm fuzzy in a movie, and what Christmas movie wouldn’t have a happy outcome?

Be sure to take time to be thankful this Thanksgiving, enjoy the turkey, trimmings, desserts and family time that go with the day, because Christmas is chasing close behind. Actually, it’s pulling ahead with Black Friday starting on Thursday! My goodness, what would grandfather say?

One last thought, as always, please be kind to each other. The world needs more kindness.

Susan Tobias lives in Plattsburgh with her husband, Toby. She has been a Press-Republican newsroom employee since 1977. The Tobiases have six children, 18 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. They enjoy traveling to Maine and Colorado, and in her spare time, Susan loves to research local history and genealogy. Reach her by email at