Ok. I’m officially one of Those People.
No, not a Raiders fan. (I do have my standards, you know.)
No, I haven’t started changing lanes without a turn signal.
And no, I haven’t been forgetting to take my mask off when I’m alone in the car. Not for more than one or two blocks, anyway.
This is something far more serious.
Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Scott Rochat … and I am an Early Christmas Decorator.
(Ow! If you’re going to throw cranberry sauce at me, take it out of the can first, OK?)
To be fair, this goes against a LOT of my early training. From childhood on, family and employers made it clear that Thanksgiving was the demarcation line that must not be crossed. Even now, my folks deck the halls beautifully, but not until well into December.
So how did we come to violate the Turkey Truce?
I’d love to blame Missy for this, but for once, she’s innocent. Relatively so, anyway. If you’ve met her in this space before, you know that our ward has no fear of blaring out some holiday tunes in the middle of June if the mood strikes her. This year was no exception – but the Veterans Day tree in the window was not her fault.
That started with my wife Heather.
Well, in all honesty, it started with 2021. And more than a bit of 2020 as well.
I think we can all agree that these last two years have been … what’s the word? Stressful? Frustrating? Flaming dumpsters full of near-apocalyptic wretchedness? (I know, that’s more than one word. Go with me here.) Certainly there have been some amazing moments – any time period where Grumpy Bernie turns into a meme can’t be all bad – but for the most part, it’s been a slog. Through a swamp. That’s on fire. And filled with bear traps.
Within Chez Rochat itself, this is the year we lost our oldest pet. And our youngest pet. We racked up way too many medical emergencies, even by Heather’s standards. Not to mention … but no, I won’t mention. You’ve got your own tales of family exhaustion and you probably don’t need to be burdened down by mine.
Suffice it to say, there’s been a lot of darkness. And darkness needs light.
So we kindled some.
Two weeks early for the calendar. But just in time for us.
And I know we’ve got company.
It’s a human reflex. Almost every winter holiday I can think of involves kindling lights. It’s an act that pushes back against the growing night, creating beauty out of shadow. When reflected by snow, the light grows still stronger, reaching out to embrace all who see it.
In a cold time, it’s a promise that we’re still here. That we can still hope.
That’s no small thing.
Joy, love, peace, hope – those aren’t qualities for just one time of year, to be packed up in a cardboard box when reality returns. They’re survival traits. We pick a time to make them more visible so they’re not forgotten, but they always belong. And in times like this, they’re more essential than ever.
So if this year, giving thanks is mixed with your holiday cheer of choice, I won’t blame you. Quite the opposite.
Let there be lights. And trees. And hearts with the strength and desire to raise spirits. Whatever you do, however you do it … if you’re helping hold back the dark this year, you’re family.
Yes, even the Raiders fans.