“Mama, why do they have Christmas stuff out already?”
A good question, I thought. It was not even Halloween yet. Heck, this was a few weeks ago. But there among the leftover school supplies and Halloween candy were Christmas stockings and some tinsel.
“They are wanting to get customers into the spirit early I guess,” was my answer.
It seemed wrong to my child. He wanted to make himself have a toothache on Halloween and not feel bad about his gluttony; kind of hard to do if you have perpetual reminders Santa was watching.
“Does it work?” he wanted to know.
I doubted it. They had been moving Christmas up earlier and earlier each year and so far it hadn’t motivated me to shop any earlier. I still did my mad dash on Dec. 23.
The holidays had all become one mushed up rush of blurred lines where we are told to rush, rush, rush from one experience to the next instead of enjoying the memories that are being made during that occasion.
I had frowned when I saw the Halloween costumes being displayed before school started. How can I decide between a witch or fairy princess when it’s too dadblamed hot to even begin to think about putting something latex with faux suede on my thighs in 100-degree weather?
It’s hard to choose what bags of candy to get for yourself and what to get for possible trick-or-treaters if you are trying to remember if all the lights worked on your Christmas tree.
For that matter, I was trying to remember where my little pink tree was. It seemed like Lamar had left it out – it took up precious real estate in the barn that houses bicycle paraphernalia – and I heard him murmur he had to toss it. Maybe I needed to go ahead and buy a new tree? They were already out on display.
I think it goes beyond retailers wanting to maximize shopping days in the fourth quarter. I think it has to do with our rush-rush-rush, instant gratification pace we have come accustomed to. Everything is smooshed together so we can multi-task.
Much like the way we have to stay connected on our phones, checking updates, emails and letting the world know what we are having for dinner – all while pretending to get in quality time with our families as we simultaneously work on something else.
I am guilty of this myself, which is why I know all too well the feeling of being overwhelmingly, hectically rushed.
“Did they have Santas out before Halloween when you were a little girl?” Cole wanted to know, holding a snow globe in one hand, a black cat in another.
No. Back in the olden days of the ‘70s and ‘80s, when life was wonderful despite the polyester and the shag carpet, we had separation of holidays.
Halloween was honored with black and orange taffy, candy corn and plastic masks we couldn’t breathe in.
Thanksgiving was weeks later and was basically the day of honoring football and feasts.
Christmas did not officially kick off until the gaudy green and red streamers were wrapped around the light poles in the Sears parking lot.
Around that same time, maybe a few weeks before, the Sears Wish Book was delivered, which let every child know to get their act together because Christmas was coming. Granny would give me the cherished catalog with instructions to circle the stuff I wanted for Christmas.
“And just because you circle it, don’t mean you gonna be getting it,” she would remind me.
Sometimes, things ran out or were on back order and either Granny picked something else off the list or she asked if I wanted to wait until it was available. Sometimes, I waited. Some things were worth the wait, even if they were for Christmas.
No Black Friday, no Cyber Monday. There wasn’t Amazon drones to deliver, it was real people you’d see bringing the boxes in to the counter. And dangit, it all started in December. We pretty much considered the days after Thanksgiving to be the days we digested – not the days we strove to see how much money we could save by spending oodles at ungodly hours while fighting strangers for Elmo dolls and things we didn’t need.
And somehow, despite the lack of early displays urging us to “believe” and “celebrate,” those memories were special. Simpler, and not memorialized on Instagram and heaven help – Granny didn’t even get a recipe off Pinterest – but they were far more meaningful.
“I want Halloween to be Halloween, and not crammed into Christmas,” Cole said, putting the snow globe back. “Halloween is about candy and magic; Christmas is about Baby Jesus and believing. I can’t keep my holidays straight if they have everything out at once. I want to remember Halloween for what it is, not get everything confused.”
“You don’t think they would lump them all together, do you?” Cole wondered.
“Nah,” I said. “Besides, it’s too long to put Happy Merry Hallogivingmas on a card. Hallmark would have a heck of a time marketing that.”
Unless they could lump Easter in there, then that may be another story.
photo: The family celebrating Halloween, 2009. Cole was going as The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, complete with blue blankie and a Snoopy.