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AT THE HELM: THANKSGIVING IS OVER SO LET CHRISTMAS BEGIN

By Scott Graves

Pilot editor

Volunteers will be out in force at Brookings' Azalea Park this weekend setting up more than 300,000 colored lights as well as lighted sculptures for the Dec. 1 opening of Nature's Coastal Holidays.

They tried to do the work last weekend, but the rain – more than 4 inches of it – put a damper on things.

The rain was an act of God – he was sending a clear message: "No Christmas before Thanksgiving!"

I say "amen" to that.

Call me old fashioned, but I believe that Christmas celebrations should begin after Thanksgiving. Advertisers think otherwise. Every year, they hijack the holiday months in advance to hawk everything from pantyhose to luxury cars. In fact, both items were in a commercial featuring a sexy, female santa pulling on shear pantyhose while sliding out of a sports car wrapped with a red bow. I don't remember what they were selling, but the Christmas jingle sure was catchy.

To combat advertisers' insidious efforts, I follow several rules:

•No singing or humming of Christmas songs until after Thanksgiving. The mute button on the TV remote helps keep Christmas songs from sticking in my head prematurely. If I can't find the remote, I put my hands over my ears and chant "La, la, la!"

•No decorations until after Thanksgiving. Which means I'll be battling the black widows and other creepie-crawlies in the coming weeks as I dig the Christmas lights and ornaments out of storage.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I can rest my remote thumb and sing Christmas songs to my heart's content. Perhaps I'll put a few black widows in the advertisers' Christmas stockings. That's the Christmas spirit!

Holiday happenings kicked off Friday with the Brookings Lion's Club Santa March in which participants donned Santa outfits and walked to benefit local children. Things continue today with the annual arrival of Santa Claus at the Port of Brookings Harbor – on a U.S. Coast Guard vessel no less, which helps him avoid those pesky Homeland Security checkpoints.

In Brookings, Christmas means crab, which means commercial fishermen will suffer temporary insanity and head out into the treacherous, unforgiving sea in the pursuit of one of the ugliest creatures on earth. Creatures so hideous, yet so delicious. Yummm.

Children will soon be writing letters to Santa (asking for sexy pantyhose and sports cars), and hoping their agents can get their holiday artwork published in the Pilot's annual Holiday Greetings section. (I accept cash and most major credit cards.)

The family and I will likely continue our annual tradition of finding and cutting down a Christmas tree in the nearby national forest. Nothing says Christmas like cutting off an arm or leg! Perhaps the paramedics, dressed in pantyhouse, will sing carols on the way to the emergency room.

Talking of hurting myself, I will continue the annual Christmas tradition of climbing up a ladder and, using live power cords, string lights on the house in the middle of a rainstorm.

That type of, ahem, electrifying experience isn't likely to happen to the volunteers working this weekend to transform Azalea Park into a holiday wonderland. The forecast for today and Sunday calls for partly cloudy skies.

God planned it that way.

Happy getting-ready-for-Christmas!

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