I used to think this was a joke; something that hippies and old ladies complain about. “Christmas is getting here earlier every year”. “Yeah, right”, I’d say. “Thanksgiving is still Thanksgiving, and Christmas season doesn’t start until after that, on Black Friday when all the parents of the spoiled children rush to the malls and toystores at five in the morning to fight over a tickle-me-elmo doll.”
That was, of course, until three pieces of information got to me this year. Firstly, last Saturday, November 12th, while visiting Ithaca College, I saw an ad that TBS was running. The Grinch was on, telling us all about how he was going to steal Christmas. This is the old animated Grinch, not the crappy, overhyped, overproduced, overgrossing Jim Carrey atrocity. This was the classic cartoon that gets played every year; as much a part of Christmas as the 24-hour marathon of “A Christmas Story” is. Except one thing. They were advertising it because it was airing the next day. That’s right. November freakin 13th marks the official first day of the Christmas television season this year. A full twelve days before shopping season gets into full swing. Of course, this is not to say that Christmas specials have never aired this early. Rudolph and Frosty, etc. usually air around the 7th of December, but that’s forgiveable. Those actually air in the same month as Christmas, without another major holiday between the two. There used to be a time when there actually were Thanksgiving specials (hard to believe, I know). The one I remember had something to do with a bear in a pilgrim suit becoming friends with some other animal (maybe a duck?) dressed as an Indian, and I seem to remember it airing every year. Of course, it could all be a dream, or something I made up because I can’t find it after numerous internet searches.
Secondly: A few days later, I heard a radio ad for the Palmer Park Mall. I’m not sure exactly where that is (Maybe Jersey?). The main focus of the ad was that Santa was coming. HOORAY. Santa’s going to ride in on a fire engine on Thanksgiving day, signifying the coming of the Christmas shopping bonanza. WRONG! Santa is now coming to the mall on the totally arbitrary Saturday the 19th of November…. BEFORE THANKSGIVING! What’s the point? An extra four days to see Santa? Was there really that much of a demand to see Santa last year that kids didn’t get to see him because of time constraints? Are the kids really ready to see Santa this early in the year? I don’t mean to sound paranoid here, but is there some sort of Santa war going on between malls where they’re trying to get there earlier than the next guy to draw more business? Freakin Santa!
Thirdly, while at Redners, pushing the cart for the website’s egomaniacal slavemaster, we were looking near the candy department, by the WALL OF VALUES. And we noticed sweet little hershey candy, wrapped in yuletide colors. Awww, how nice. Green and Red kisses, green and red Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Green and Red Rollos, you get the idea. Really decorative and sweet for your holiday. Except… IT WAS FREAKIN OCTOBER 25th (or thereabouts). This is time to be selling Halloween candy. Pumpkins, and witches, and ghosts, not Christmas trees. I guess the idea is that you can get your Christmas candy early and let it sit in your dish, counting down the days. The one thing that doesn’t cross your mind while waiting for this candy to be in season is that it loses freshness and by the time it actually is December, that candy is more than likely going to break your teeth when you bite into it. The only other reason that I can suggest for the candy being there is that maybe… just maybe, Redners didn’t sell it the year before, which would explain why it was sitting on the WALL OF VALUES!
My point is this: we need to slow down. The earlier we start celebrating Christmas, the sooner we run out of material, and we’re forced to create four additional Charlie Brown specials, or watch Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey look as though they’re having seisures while singing carols, or I don’t know, watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” all four times that NBC shows it. We’ll be celebrating in September soon enough, and then my birthday will become engulfed in the massive Holiday that’s enveloped the rest of the fourth quarter of the year. And that’s the real shame of it all. Let’s not let that happen. For the children.
I forgot one thing. Sunny 104.5 in Philly is now playing all holiday music. They started last week (November 15th about). With over a month of this stuff, you’d think your head would explode.
The Myth of the Christmas Season Starting Earlier and Earlier gets four stars as it seems to be true, but I have no historical evidence to back it up. Next year, we’ll compare the dates for the Grinch special and Santa’s first day at work, then we’ll see.