This past October, as I was hurriedly traversing a mall foyer in Sacramento, I peered up from the high-gloss marble floor below and beheld an abominable sight: Christmas had already arrived in some stores.
Blinking string lights and silver garland climbed the lattice handbag wall in Macy’s; animated Santas mechanically pivoted from the plastic waist-up whilst droning contemporary holiday jingles amid the clamorous food court; even a women’s maternity store was in on the yuletide action with its front window cling picturing a mom-to-be decked out in a gaudy red velour empire-waist smock, gazing into a presumably empty foil-wrapped gift box, her mouth agape. I scoffed at this criminally premature holiday panorama constructed by profit-oriented retailers and vowed not to submit to the bold-font “ONLY 66 SHOPPING DAYS LEFT!” banners glaring down at me from above me as if equipped with surveillance devices to ensure I’d not leave that mall without a bundle of poinsettia-themed bags in tow. Don’t get me wrong, I revel in anticipation of the Christmas season, I do. It’s the one opportune time for me to drink my morning coffee from a mug rimmed in flying reindeer and burn peppermint-scented tea lights. But I don’t don my gay apparel in the nascent weeks of the academic semester in which any leaf that has managed to stray from a tree was one likely shaken from its branch by a rabid squirrel. It seems to me that the era of carolers ushering in the season in unison with the falling of snow (or, as we in the valley would experience, sporadic sleet) has been run over by cross-promoting franchises and their “anytime is a good time to start shoving Christmas down people’s throat!” tenet.
In the aggressive world of marketing, many retailers start advertising and promoting Christmas as early as September, so as to “keep up with the Jones’s” across the frantic shopper-congested breezeway. I’m surely not alone in my aggravated observation of Christmas creeping up on us earlier every year, because it is.
The first company to launch their holiday ads this year was home-improvement retailer Lowe’s, a full week before Halloween: Oct. 23. $312 billion retail empire Wal Mart forewent its traditional Black Friday tradition of commencing its hard-hitting holiday campaign and opted for November 1, so shoppers could weed through discounted Halloween candy and innovative stocking stuffers, i.e. transparent “illuminating devices” (a.k.a. flashlights) and miniature Treasure Troll keychains. Goodie!
The culture of unbridled consumption that has given rise to this holiday-time milieu may be inevitably inescapable, but is society’s participation really mandatory? I somehow doubt that human beings were designed to shop, to voluntarily entrap themselves in spiritless malls for hours on end while their patience and composure wear thinner which each blood-curdling cell phone ring and infant’s shrill cry.
Save the hot-weather holly-peddling for the corporate colossuses. When Christmas no longer holds sentiment for you and your loved ones, when you liken the very word to a bloated commercial parasite gnawing at your skull, such is perfect motivation to stick to your own traditions.
Lug the tree home four mornings before your family assembles around it. Pull the plug on the dull haze of TV commercials coercing you to burn plastic while you still have a spending limit. Don’t let the holiday-hype fatigue get the best of you; that’s what the colon-inflating pumpkin cheesecake is for.