Christmas in July

Christmas in July seems to have experienced a bit of an uptick as a commercial gimmick in the past few years and has become a stalwart of the Hallmark Channel for at least that many. But it’s not a new idea. There’s a 1940 film with the title Christmas in July. It may only be referring to unexpected prize money, but the concept is there. We’re talking about a windfall outside of the holiday season.

That being said, I’m just now starting to take Christmas in July seriously. According to my wife, the reason is our daughter. She was born in April, and I couldn’t wait to celebrate Christmas with her, so I started a few months early. It must’ve been subconscious because I don’t recall making that decision, but it makes sense. I never thought twice about Christmas in July before she was born.

Therefore, I hope it’s obvious that my celebration is not centered on conning folks into giving me presents. Not at all. The first thing I did was try to find out where I could get my hands on some eggnog—in the middle of the summer. As it turns out, it’s available by the box from Amazon. But my wife offered to make me some, which was even better. Because if I hadn’t found eggnog, there wouldn’t have been any point to a second Christmas in July.

The Beach Boys have a Christmas album. Jimmy Buffett has two. There is a plethora of reggae Christmas selections on Spotify. I think it just makes sense not to overlook the fact that it’s 90 degrees outside. So, I’ve chosen to embrace it.

Given the tropical theme of my Christmas in July, a red Hawaiian shirt or two makes for appropriate attire. However, I’ve not started going all out on decorations. A few strategically-placed strings of lights are fine. We have a fake miniature Christmas tree that I set up in the corner. (We have a real tree for December, but the mini-tree is a holdover from our apartment days and works well for the summer.)

I should probably speak more in-depth about gifts. I said Christmas in July wasn’t about that. And, in all honesty, I don’t do much in the way of presents for this pseudo-holiday. But I do think it’s okay to get myself one thing… or maybe a couple of things. It’s also okay to get someone else something too if that’s what you’re into.

This past year was my first official Christmas in July, so I’m no expert, but I recommend homemade eggnog if you can get it. Also, I would say that gingersnap smores are a pretty good bet. (Give mint chocolate a try when you toast your marshmallows over the campfire.) Make peppermint milkshakes or mint chocolate chip on really humid nights. Also, drink chocolate milk instead of cocoa. You can do that all month long.

But we made the smores with my family on July Eve, which happened to fall on the 24th this year. By the way, I’ve decided against using July 25th as a strict date for Christmas in July day. I’m going the route of those Halloween-enthusiasts who want their holiday to be the last Saturday of each October. 

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July is an excellent time to check out some of the Christmas movies you didn’t watch the previous Christmas or to watch your favorites again. I watch a bit of Elf and Home Alone, which is my favorite Christmas movie. However, I also hunted down this 1970 film adaptation of A Christmas Carol titled “Scrooge.” Alec Guinness was Jacob Marley’s ghost, which was a treat.

This year, my wife started a Christmas-related project. She made stockings that we’ll use for Christmas and next Christmas in July. (We just have lights on the mantel this year.) I recommend putting an orange in your stocking for Christmas in July. I typically received a single orange in my stocking when I was growing up, and it just makes sense for summer.

When it comes down to it, Christmas in July is all about anticipation of the season, so if you feel the need to drag out all of your decorations to make sure the lights are all working, then go for it. This is practice for the real thing. But be careful, one day, you may have people driving past your house in the middle of a heatwave because of a summer wonderland you have on display. If that sounds like my five-year plan for Christmas in July, it’s because it is.

photo: Lynda Hinton

Christmas

My family and I tend to have a pretty minimal Christmas. At least, in regards to decorations. This may misrepresent how important the holiday is for me. But this importance only sprang up a few years ago.

I’m not sure if age brings about a desire for tradition or if it was one singular event that spurred a change in me. But I do recall a particular Christmas that seemed to come and go a little too quickly. Before I realized it, I was back at work after New Year’s. This seemed to spin me around from a bit of a Scrooge to more of a Clark Griswald.

Because the very next Christmas, I decided to create some traditions of my own so I could mark the holiday. Some of them included: listening to holiday music and putting out decorations the Sunday after Thanksgiving, watching select Christmas movies throughout the month of December (just to amp up that good ol’ Christmas feeling), and listening to David Sedaris’ “Santaland Diaries” on Christmas morning. Now that I’m a father, even more traditions are in the works.

I may have made it sound like I’m now decorating my home like Clark in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Maybe that’s coming but right now we just have a box with a few Christmas decorations (However, this year I bought some lights for the TV stand and outside so we may need a bigger box soon.) We also have a box for our miniature tree. There are plans to remedy the fake tree, but it wasn’t until this past Christmas that we realized real miniatures might be available. And we’ve already decided to have a full-size tree once we move out of our apartment.

We keep our wrapping paper in an “under bed storage system.” (That’s the language they use in the product description. I guess they’re right. It’s not a box exactly because it zips up. So, it’s a storage system that goes under the bed. But we don’t keep ours under the bed.) It’s standing in a closet for easy access because we use it for birthday wrapping paper and other miscellaneous gift bags as well.

As you can tell, keeping decorations and all Christmas paraphernalia organized and to a minimum is still pretty important to me. Christmas music, Christmas cookies, Christmas cocoa, and Christmas presents are much more critical. However, I am looking for a good Christmas sweater. If I can find the right one, I wouldn’t mind adding the tradition of wearing one every Christmas day.

photo: Caleb Woods