Every day when we walk the dog, we see more houses with Christmas decorations up. There are lights on bushes, fences and porch railings, flags, Santas on sleighs affixed to house fronts. The past few days, I’ve even seen Christmas trees in windows. And it’s not even Thanksgiving, let alone Advent, which this year starts Nov. 29. Normally, this would bother me. Normally, I’m the curmudgeon who would prefer stores keep their holiday displays under wraps until after Thanksgiving, or at least until after Halloween. I believe in Advent as a season of waiting and anticipation, and as tired as I sometimes get of “O Come O Come Emmanuel” in church when radio stations have been playing Christmas music 24/7 for weeks, it makes that first singing of “O Come All Ye Faithful” all the more special at Mass on Christmas or Christmas Eve. We’ve always put Christmas lights on our front bushes and porch, but not usually until December, after Thanksgiving and Frank’s birthday. This year? There are already lights and ornaments on the front bushes, and the plastic penguin with the lightbulb inside is perched on the porch, this year with a mask covering its beak. He was installed the same day we put away the plastic ghost holding a pumpkin. Don’t worry, though. I’m sure we’ll be outside in below-freezing temperatures adding more lights and decorations as we get closer to Christmas. We don’t wait until Christmas Eve to put up the tree, but usually we don’t do it until the week before. This year, we’ve agreed to the day after Thanksgiving. We’re enforcing the wait time — and have buy-in from the under-12 family member — mostly because putting up the tree means rearranging the living room and taking a lot of toys and art supplies that have worked their way upstairs back to the basement. We did put the lighted garland over the living room windows already. The Nativity scene never got taken down after last Christmas, so that’s up too. I did take baby Jesus out of it so that he can come back Christmas morning. The thing is, this year, I’m okay with it. If Advent is a season of waiting, it’s been a year of Advent. A year of waiting to go to friends’ houses, to celebrate holidays with family instead of making our own turkey and stuffing, to spend time in a happy crowd at a hockey or baseball game or waiting to start a race with thousands of our closest friends downtown. It’s been a year of waiting to be a community in the way we always have, by being together, instead of expressing our commitment to the health and safety of our community by staying apart. If putting up lights a few weeks early, or even putting the tree up early, helps us remember hope, helps us remember love, helps us remember our faith that Jesus, the light of the world, has come and will come to save us all, then far be it from me to criticize. And if starting to trim the tree the day after Thanksgiving means we can take more than a day to finish it, all the better.