My father stopped dead in his tracks in front of the Rehoboth Library. “Son,” he bellowed in that Southern drawl of his, “just what the hell is this?” He stood scowling at a Victorian light pole wrapped in plastic pine garland and topped by a big red bow.
The date was October 20. My father was visiting again from The Queen City, and this city of queens had already begun tarting up for Christmas. It was sunny and cool and I was still attired in shorts, not ready to acknowledge autumn, not even thinking about Christmas. C’mon, Halloween was over a week away. I was horrified.
I sought clarification from one of our helpful city commissioners. Seems that the Christmas decorations were installed early because certain individuals who install these things were planning a vacation in November. Therefore, a decision was made to hurry up the decorating rather than hire extra help at the appropriate time or wait until those certain individuals returned from vacation.
What’s wrong with waiting? I’m no Scrooge. I just like my Christmas in December. When it’s cold. After the pumpkins have rotted and the mums have died and the old boys have scampered off to Lauderdale. To infuriate me even more, a neighbor told me the Safeway put out Christmas candy canes the day after Halloween. Before the yams!
It was all just too much. But how does one take a stand and draw a line against the insane American run up to Christmas? To start with, I’d turn my energy to the mid-term elections and hand out Democratic literature on election day in a very conservative polling district. If anything could kill holiday cheer it would be the dour faces of Republican voters.
It worked. By evening I’d forgotten Christmas and was readying for guests coming over for cocktails and a casual supper to celebrate the beginning of what we hoped was the end of the Bush regime. It was warm, rainy, and breezy, so we set everything up out on the screened porch, including the television. Very “downstate” and I know Irenee du Pont would approve. There’d be no going into the house until we took back the House. Except, of course, to use the facilities.
Democratic victories began flowing and so too did the wine and the gin on the front porch. Apprehension morphed into optimism and as the wind and rain outside picked up we swore that Mother Nature herself was blowing out six years of stench and cleansing our national soul. It was an inspiring night.
Then, in the wee hours of the morning, I heard it. The C-word.
Some television pundit had referred to the voting results as an early Christmas present. I froze for a moment, three Tylenols dissolving in my mouth. I processed it, calmly swallowed, took a deep breath, and continued turning off the rest of the lights in the house. Eggnog lattes at Starbucks and Christmas sweaters before Thanksgiving are ludicrous. This, however, I could live with.
Solidago odora, commonly known as “sweet goldenrod” is indigenous to Delaware and widespread in coastal areas and along the edges of marshes and thickets. It blooms in the Fall and is often blamed for causing hay fever, which is actually caused by ragweed, whose pollen is abundant when goldenrod is in flower. In 1895, the goldenrod lost out to the peach blossom in the race for becoming the state flower, largely because agriculturalists and school children sent petitions to the state legislature pointing out that Delaware had the reputation of being the “Peach State” since her orchards contained more than 800,000 peach trees, which yielded a crop worth thousands of dollars. A hundred years later, the state named Solidago odora as its state herb.