When is the right time to decorate for Christmas?

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At the risk of wading into one of our nation’s and church’s most contentious questions, America asked our readers when they think is the right time to decorate for Christmas. We encouraged them to come up with a spiritual justification for their answers. Here’s what they said.

Around Thanksgiving.
When my family was young, we were very deliberate. First Sunday of Advent was reserved for the Advent wreath. Second Sunday for the crèche, with the baby absent and the kings traveling from afar. Third Sunday we put up lights for Gaudete Sunday. And Fourth Sunday we put up the tree. It slowed us down, built up anticipation and was so memorable! But alas, now I am old—it’s too cold for me to wait so late to put up lights, and too hard to save big projects like the tree till the very last minute. And so, I’ve given myself joyful permission to get going around Thanksgiving!


Renee Goodspeed
Rochester, N.H.

Please, Not Until the First Sunday of Advent!
First, I’ve typically just barely cleaned my house post-Thanksgiving and am likely too lazy to do more stuff around the house. Second, the First Sunday of Advent appears to be the most consistent with the rhythms of the liturgical calendar—slowly decorating for Christmas is like the slow prep for a loved one’s long-awaited visit home. Third, actually following the liturgical calendar is countercultural and is a way to “stick it to the Man,” given the heavy emphasis on the secular and material aspects of Christmas.

Bernadette Libao
Chicago, Ill.

After Thanksgiving
We already have commercial hijacking of Christmas too early! I have a neighbor who has ALREADY [Nov. 19] put up inflatable and other Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations in his yard! Tom the Turkey and Santa in one scene! It’s like seeing humans and dinosaurs in a historical diorama—ughhhh!

Mark Kroncke
San Rafael, Calif.

After Thanksgiving
For people who enjoy decorating early, Christmas brings a sense of joy, and peace and many memories of family love and traditions. I think Jesus would say “go for it!”

Emily Douglass
Spring, Tex.

After Thanksgiving
I believe in a gradual, already/not yet approach. So I start after Thanksgiving, remembering to be thankful that Christ has already come. We used to put up our tree but without lights or decorations—except for simple purple and pink ribbons to celebrate Advent—to also focus on the “not yet.” I try not to go overboard until Dec. 17 and then keep the decorations up until the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. He has come, is present now and will come again.

Harry Dudley
New Castle, Penn.

It’s Never Too Early
Christmas means joy and happiness. Why postpone joy? We need more happiness and smiles. As Charles Dickens said (to paraphrase): keep Christmas in our hearts every day. We do and will.
Love and hugs to all. Pops.

Tom Dooling
Cincinnati, Ohio

Christmas Eve or the Weekend Right Before Christmas
The worst thing about starting [too early] is that you’re just sick and tired of the din before Christmas comes along. With such rich liturgy ahead: 12 days of Christmas, Epiphany, Baptism of the Lord and finally the traditional finale at Candlemas (Feb. 2).... Please do not spoil our Catholic month-plus of cheer (Dec. 24-Feb. 2) by taking it all away on Dec. 26!
Keith Henry
San Francisco, Calif.

Not Until the First Sunday of Advent!
Advent is about waiting. Putting the decorations up too soon means we don’t have to wait for them. Also, it means we get sick of them before Christmas actually arrives!

Karen Park
Appleton, Wis.

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