It's never too early.
There's an annual gap which seems to continually shrink. That's, of course, the window between Halloween and Christmas. It seems to get shorter and shorter the older one gets. It's never soon enough for children, and it feels like the same week for the adults.
Before we know it, the Halloween candy is stocked just feet from the candy canes.
That makes us adults tense. We think time is moving by too quickly. We want Saint Nick to stay in storage at least until the snow falls (though that would have been Friday for our part of the state). We want to have the time to enjoy the Thanksgiving season for what it is. We want just five more minutes of sleep.
See, that's what this Hallow-mas season seems like to me sometimes. It's the alarm clock buzzer we silence with a not so gentle smash on the snooze button. There's a lot to be done before Dec. 25 arrives each year. There will be cookies, there will be presents and there will be a litany of other to-do-list items.
But the one that is perhaps most easily forgotten is charity.
The moral of stories from "A Christmas Carol" to "It's a Wonderful Life" remind us of the limited value material things bring us in the long-run but, once the credits role, we return to the holiday hustle and bustle in pursuit of the perfect season.
Meanwhile, our fellow man lies in need. Some of us will even make an effort to support local business, which is fine in and of itself. But, to quote Jacob Marley, "Mankind was my business." This from a man who was so caught up in the pursuit of the material that his spirit was doomed to walk the earth and observe — stripped of his ability to intervene as punishment for past greed. There's one particular tablou in the Dickens classic which most (but not all) adaptations pass over, but it has stayed with me. Ebenezer Scrooge looks out his window and sees flocks of ghosts in anguish as they try to effect the living. He looks down from his window and sees a mother huddled in the alley with a child near his own home — the ghost of a rich man kept just inches away while eternally bound to his own safe.
A bit spooky.
It's an image I find particularly fitting for the blended Christmas-ween season in which we find ourselves. As I said, Oct. 31 is the alarm clock reminding us we will die someday, while Dec. 25 is the hour we most often drag ourselves out of bed to begin the work of caring and sharing. So don't hit snooze. Get up. Don't wait. Plan now how you will care for your fellow man here at home, down in the cities destroyed by Hurricane Michael and far off in the corners of the world that have been struggling for so long we rarely think of them anymore. Start now.
It's never too early.