Sunday, August 08, 2004

The Holiday Season

These are the dog days of summer, but it doesn't hurt to plan ahead - or in this case to whine ahead. For the fall is coming, and that means one thing: the ever-earlier beginning of the "Holiday Season".

It used to be that we weren't bombarded with Christmas until December, and sometimes not even until the second week. These were the good times. The salad days. Now of course, Christmas has been encroaching on us earlier and earlier, under the disguise of The Holiday season. Every year I keep my eye out for the very first time I spot some kind of Christmas-themed display or marketing. For the last few years, it's been in October. Most recently it was Barnes and Nobles trying to clear out their previous years stock of Christmas books.

I think the "Holiday Season" was originally meant to be a polite way to refer to Christmas but also include Hannukah. Somewhere along the line Thanksgiving was included, and now even Halloween seems to be part of the season as well.

I have nothing against grouping Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas into one big "Holiday Season" category. Call it whatever you want. What I do have a problem with is hearing "The Twelve Days of Christmas", on acoustic guitar, playing in my local Starbucks IN NOVEMBER.

This drives me up the fucking wall. Using the logic that the Christmas spirit makes people more inclined to spend and shop, commercial America is bringing us Christmas earlier and earlier, using "The Holiday Season" as an excuse.

I'm far from the first person to point this out, yet I'd be remiss if I didn't bitch about this in a journal devoted to bitching. I hope that the fact I'm doing it in August lends credence to the idea that it really does piss me off. Obviously Christmas is overcommercialized. It's always been that way. But only in the last 10 or so years has Christmas become so firmly entrenched in November. And let me say in no uncertain terms: Christmas works wonderfully as an exclusively December-y celebration. But once you expand Christmas into November, and it occupies a full one-sixth (or more) of the year, it starts getting really annoying, really fast.

Some commercial outlets manage to hold off on shoving Christmas in your face until the day after Thanksgiving. This is the longest anyone can restrain themselves. Other people, like I've said, start in October.

I propose a fair compromise. Absolutely nothing Christmas related before Thanksgiving. You can talk about Halloween and Thanksgiving all you want, but no Christmas. Then, after Thanksgiving, but before December, you can open the floodgates on the Christmas sales and displays, with one exception: nothing audible. No Christmas carols piped over the PA system, no ho ho ho's, no sleigh bells. Commercials on TV can talk about Christmas all they want, but again no carols, no santas, no bells. That has to wait until December.

I think that would be fair. You see, "The Holiday Season" problem is related to the old Digimon problem. We the consumers agree collectively to suspend our disbelief. We know that Christmas is being shoved in our face by the entire commercial establishment in order to manipulate us into spending freely. But we agree to pretend that the reason is actually to make us happy and fill us with good cheer. When Christmas arrives with such insistance in November, the greed of the marketers is too apparant. It's too obvious that we are being manipulated. We need it to be less obvious in order to feel comfortable. Don't make us listen to carols until December.

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