I remember just about this time last year, I set off for Home Depot with my father for a snow blower following a tremendous snowstorm. We arrived only to discover rows and rows of lawn chairs, barbeques, and fertilizer and evidently, no snow blowers. Last time I checked, December is five months away from summer and the Fourth of July, not one month.
Even in June of the past summer, as I was unwinding by my pool and finally beginning to set into “summer mode”, back-to-school clothing and supplies advertisements filled every newspaper insert. This was the last thing I wanted to see only two weeks after finally concluding the school year and graduating. Again, last time I checked, we return back to school in September, not June.
During the following month of that same summer, I spotted Christmas decorations on sale at a local home goods store. Let me repeat that, Christmas decorations already for sale, in July. This inspired me to think: If we have Christmas decorations being sold in July, why not have Halloween decorations sold in May, Fourth of July decorations sold in January, and Easter decorations sold in September? Better yet, let’s coalesce all the holidays to evade rushing the shopping period and possibly missing a holiday. Let’s instead celebrate “Merry Christmahanakwanzika-Memoriahalloweaster Day.”
Okay, I’ll admit it; maybe combining the holidays into the “ultimate holiday” probably is not our best solution. It’s difficult to say where this mentality of shortening time comes from in the retail world. Perhaps this holiday- retail dash subsists as a result of changing times, or furthermore the slow economy promotes retailers to “rush the holidays”.
Regardless of the reason for this behavior, this mania is undeniably true: as a nation, we are moving at too fast of a speed. Does anyone even remember what happened to Thanksgiving? It seems to me that it used to be in there sometime between Halloween and Christmas, but I could be wrong. The true question to ask ourselves when it comes to holidays and retailers is, “How early is too early?”
In actuality, is it acceptable for the Lincoln Center and Rockefeller Center to light their Christmas trees on the last week of November, when in previous years, they were lit the first or second week of December? What about radio stations starting their “Holiday Mixes” on Thanksgiving Day? Can we at least wait until Black Friday, people! And can you believe that “Black Friday” is now on Thursday?! We actually achieved time compression since Thursday is now Friday. Step aside, Thanksgiving, Black Friday is in town.
The mad rush for the highest retail-grossing holidays beginning earlier and earlier each year is a tad scary to think about. If this holiday rate continues, I have no doubt that in the near future even before the last Christmas present is placed under the tree, stores will be setting up Valentine’s Day displays. Ironically enough, people know when these holidays are (it’s not like they can forget anyways with all the advertising!) and yet they still panic and continue to buy earlier each year. In all honesty, must the advertising start so early and be so overbearing that it becomes more like stuffing the holiday down people’s throats?
This rushing of events is also true for more than just holidays. A politician spends half of his or her term actually maintaining their executive position in our government and then spends the rest of the term campaigning for the next election. Also college events are scheduled earlier and earlier for high school students, and it is not unlikely for children of younger and younger ages to know “where they want to go to college” and “what they want to do” ten years from now. Why, as a nation, are we so obsessed with what will happen rather than what is happening now? God, and the retailers, only know.
So, am I advocating picketing retail chains or boycotting holiday sales in an effort to get the stores to ease up on the rush-job? Absolutely not. But I am advocating for Americans to take the time to enjoy the holidays and life in general, to open their eyes to the present, and to enjoy the moment while it is here. Holidays are more than just the skewed retail idea that giving and buying more will elicit happiness. It’s time for us to hit the pause button on holiday retail shopping, our lives, and the future as a whole. So this upcoming winter, trade your flip-flops for winter boots, your shorts for pants, get out there, embrace the cold, and enjoy life without Christmas gifts, New Year’s Eve outfits, or Valentine’s Day candies being jammed into your life and burning a hole in your poor little pocket.