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What has begun? What I call the “Bah-Humbug Effect.” It actually started a couple of weeks ago, but it’s escalating, as it always does.

I’m hearing constant complaints from strangers in public settings and from ‘friends’.

As is typical of department stores, there have been Halloween costumes and decorations on shelves along side Thanksgiving decor and Christmas decorations. The Christmas trees have been up and lit in the stores.

Anyone who understands the basic concepts of ‘sales and marketing’ knows that with all three holidays occurring back to back within roughly two months, products have to be put on the shelves in advance to increase sales. While some people might wait until the very last moment to purchase what they need, a lot of people like to shop in advance.

This marketing strategy is no different than what clothing stores do by putting out their Winter coats and clothes in late August or early September and their Summer clothes in February or March. They make their products available before the season actually arrives.

It’s intriguing to me that we don’t hear people complain about Winter clothes on the racks in August and September, but so many people are so vocal about holiday decorations being on the shelves at the same time.

A friend recently complained on Facebook that people were putting up their Christmas lights already. Really? Does it not make sense to people to put them up on the outside of your house before the weather deteriorates and makes it dangerous?

A couple of years ago an online friend criticized me for having lights up on the outside of my house. (Understand, we modestly decorate outside, we line our roof, front door and two small pine trees on either side of our front steps.) She scolded me, that with so many people struggling, how dare I flaunt my ‘wealth’ by decorating and rubbing it in the faces of others what we have that they don’t. I was stunned by her accusation. (We are struggling, we certainly aren’t wealthy, but we budget for this time of the year so we’re able to pay a little more for our electricity bill.)

We lived four doors from the local hospital. One of our neighbors came over to our home and told us that his wife had been in the hospital for nearly a month, that she could see the house from her hospital room and enjoyed the lights, that he hadn’t had the time to decorate and when he brought her home she was thrilled to see the decorations. The year we moved to our current home a neighbor came over and told us she loved our decorations, she enjoyed coming home and seeing them. She said no matter how hard her day had been seeing the house lit up made her smile.

When we are kids we love the holidays, we look forward to them all year long and we complain because it feels like it takes forever for them to arrive. The holidays have a magical quality, we are in awe of decorations, love the music and television specials. We get so excited, we can’t sleep, the anticipation overwhelms us.

Something happens to us as we get older. We transition from being Cindy Lou Who to the Grinch. All of a sudden the holidays are all about chores, annoyances, frustration, expense, unwelcome expectations, family dramas, etc. Does this automatically happen to us when we ‘out grow’ the ‘wonder’ of the holidays?

I don’t think so. I am proof that it doesn’t have to happen.

I look forward to the holidays very much. I enjoy decorating as a means of sharing my joy of the season with others. I still enjoy seeing the decorations and get excited when the community begins to transform. I enjoy shopping for friends and family, I enjoy preparing family meals and baking cookies, making fudge. I love wrapping presents and hiding them. I love listening to Christmas music and am not shy about singing along wherever I am.

I think it’s a frame of mind. It’s a way of thinking. It’s about what you want to make of the holiday season. If you want to be negative, miserable and find fault, you will, but please, don’t impose those feelings on others.

I battle depression every day of my life, I struggle to find things to cling to that lift my spirits and make me feel good about life. This time of year, it’s very difficult to stay positive, as my father passed away December 17, 1994 and the rest of my family and my husband’s family choose to not communicate with us.

I enjoy the holidays, seeing the children on Halloween night; cooking Thanksgiving dinner with my husband and son and enjoying the day together; and I so love shopping or making things for my loved ones, hiding the gifts and seeing their faces Christmas day.

I love the Autumn leaves, pumpkins and scarecrows. I love the snow and seeing beautiful Christmas trees and decorations. I hold on to the memories from childhood that were positive, magical, that gave me cause to pause, smile and be happy.

There are so many things in life that are difficult, that challenge us, that cause us stress and frustration… can I just have this?, the enjoyment of the holiday season, without hearing how miserable it makes you?