In the Tourist Part of Town, It’s Christmas All Year Round

I’ll be taking a week off from blogging for a very festive and much needed break. However before I left I wanted to share one of my favorite observations.

If it’s your first time in a new city, you’re guaranteed to find yourself in the tourist section of town at some point. Every city’s got one. There’s Old Town in Albuquerque and City Market in Savannah. In Seattle it’s the waterfront, and there’s a similar set of piers in San Francisco. And in every tourist section of every tourist city you’ll find a few commonalities. There is always a place to get ice cream and fudge. There is always overpriced parking. And there is always a Christmas shop.

It’s astounding to me how many businesses across the United States make their year-round living selling Christmas decorations. It’s very possible to duck into a shop in August to escape the 95 degree heat, only to hear Frank Sinatra singing “Let it Snow.” These Christmas shops are claustrophobic with merchandise. Knick knacks are stacked upon knick knacks, and whole forests of fake Christmas trees block the aisles to display the huge inventory of ornaments.

It's Christmas All Year RoundWhile traveling I would always imagine the type of person who patronized these shops. The type of person who takes great pride in her collection of Christmas decorations. Who sets aside several days, if not several weeks, each November to prepare the house for the season. The type of person who adds to her collection no matter where she is, and proudly points out to her holiday guests which ornaments she picked up on her last trip through Kentucky.

I think the reason we take such joy in the Christmas season is that it demands everything change, if only for a little while. The whole mood of the world shifts, and you with it. Despite knowing that we should strive for joy, giving, and gratitude year round, we hold this month up as the most ideal time to seek such virtues. I suppose I can understand why someone would want to look for that feeling the whole year, and in every location. Not to mention that picking up Christmas ornaments on your trip means an automatic, annual remembrance of your travels. Every year you decorate your Christmas tree, and every year you pull that tacky little armadillo ornament out of the box. And you remember that long weekend you spent in Texas visiting your cousin, and how the two of you went shopping together before dinner that one night. And you remember her, and you remember the place, and you think how nice it would be to see her again. Maybe this coming spring. You should probably give her a call next week anyway.

After all, it’s Christmas.