Yuletide already? Halloween in July

By Lynn Rogers

I drove by a flower store the other day and almost had an accident when I looked in the window.

The Christmas trees were on display.

I checked my watch, making sure it was really the middle of October and the Yuletide season was approximately 70 days away. It’s not even Halloween – heck, it’s not even Sweetest Day – and they’re draping tinsel and lights over evergreen trees and plastering Santa Claus on cash registers.

Every year it gets earlier and earlier. Traditionallly, the Christmas season began after Thanksgiving, with the mad rush of shoppers deluging departments stores the weekend after Turkey Day. Not anymore – Thanksgiving itself is becoming glossed over in favor of the more commercial Christmas. After all, how many pilgrim candles can you actually sell?

I knew things were becoming crazy when the store in my town had pumpkins and leaves arranged in its front window in July. I was in sunglasses and shorts, dripping in sweat, and mannequins in wool sweaters were playing with pumpkins. Weird.

While grocery shopping in early September, I noticed the candy aisle was already stocked with candy corn and mellowcreme pumpkins. I was excited about that, because usually I have to wait until October to buy some. Every year I chow at least four bags of that sickeningly sweet, neon orange “candy”, as my friends look on in horror. “How can you eat sugared wax?” they cry.

The point is, (I tend to stray off the subject occasionally) the seasons are hyped so far in advance, one wonders when they really begin. I’ve lost all sense of time.

Maybe there are some people who like to buy ornaments in October. But to me, that takes away from the spirit of the season; part of Christmas is thoughtfully choosing gifts for loved ones and decorating the house with family and friends. You know, the “season of brotherly love” and all of that stuff.

Once December 26 hits, it’s all over. One week after Christmas last year, I was roaming a store (in search of half-price wrapping paper) and saw an employee unpacking boxes of red greeting cards. I thought it was strange there were so many Xmas cards left over, when I realized they were for Valentines Day.

And the cycle continues. It may get to a point where “Christmas in July” becomes an actuality; if they do pumpkins in the heat of summer, Rudolph can’t be far behind. More promotion means more money, something Big Bad Businesses are always seeking.

Exploiting the public is relatively easy, considering how many people and groups attempt to do it. But holidays are special days and should be above cheap exploitation. I’m on the verge of sounding dangerously close to Tiny Tim, but it’s true.

These days were set aside for a reason – in the glitz and glitter of promotion, the true meaning gets lost in the hustle and bustle. A back-to-basics approach, where we celebrate at least in the same month as the holiday, is essential if we are to retain that focus.

I promise I won’t buy mellowcreme pumpkins before October first next year, if you promise not to break out in the red-n-green until after Thanksgiving. I think we’d all feel a little less rushed and a lot more content. Santa would be proud.