The War on Christmas

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the next person who mentions Christmas before I taste turkey gets a kick in the jingle bells. It’s not that I’m a Grinch (although my sister, the Christmas Elf, will gladly tell you otherwise). It’s just that my ability to enjoy the Christmas season is inversely proportional to my level of exposure to it. Don’t get me wrong; we have our holiday traditions, and I love them all. The music, the food, the decorations; most of all I will never forget the look on my sister’s face the year I finally slipped the lump of coal into her stocking for a change. But I digress. The point is that these moments are beautiful because they are rare, they are fleeting, and thereby they are magical.

I remember when I was a kid (and I have never felt older than when I typed those words) there seemed to be an understood rule: Christmas didn’t start until after Thanksgiving. Sure, you might see a few commercials about the big sale at your local department store on Black Friday in the week leading up to Thanksgiving, but it was always in the background, like the siren song of savings before the mad rush of commercialism truly began. First came the parade, Dad would yell at the TV while he watched football all day, then the turkey, and you finished off the night with The Wizard of Oz. The next day would come with its marathon of shopping quite soon enough, and Santa’s lap would be waiting all month long for you to whisper your list of impossible desires to be passed on to your long-suffering parents.

In the last twenty years, and particularly I’ve been noticing it in the last yen years, it’s like the stores can’t wait for Christmas to start. They’re worse than the kids. My roommate told me he was in one store, which shall remain nameless (but it rhymes with K-Mart), and they had a Christmas aisle set up already. Oh, I forgot to mention: this was three weeks before Halloween. It was right next to the Halloween aisle; talk about one-stop shopping. I’m surprised they didn’t have chocolate bunnies out, too.

It can’t be the economy, or trying to lure in the “early shoppers”, because they were doing it before the economy tanked, and there have always been early shoppers (my mother is still finding gifts she “hid” back in August… of 1998). It’s like someone decided to hell with the unspoken rule, and once one person crosses that neutral zone and gets away with it, everyone else jumps on board, and I for one think it’s time we all take a stand. We mock people who leave their Christmas lights up on their homes more than a few weeks into the new year; isn’t it time we boycott stores that put theirs up more than a few weeks before the holiday? Don’t we deserve a chance to celebrate one holiday at a time?

Am I the only one who has seen Mame? Does no one else know the song “We Need a Little Christmas”? There’s a reason that song resonates, and it’s because Christmas is supposed to be a special time, a time of magic and joy. But to be special, it has to be rare. When Christmas gets pushed back so far that it literally becomes “Christmas in July” as the marketing campaigns of my youth used to say, where’s the magic? Doesn’t Santa deserve a few months off?


147 Comments on “The War on Christmas”

  1. LOVE this! ON Halloween i got very frustrated at the fact it was impossible to find last-minute things because it was being “remodeled” into the Christmas section.

  2. pickledwings says:

    I agree completely!

    Being from Canada, I grew up with Thanksgiving in October. However, it always bugged me greatly to see any sign of Christmas before November 11. Let the veterans have their day free and clear!

    When I was a kid, it always bugged me to see Christmas signage going up nearly as soon the “Back-to-School” signs went down.

    • paulgauchi says:

      I agree! Even though I will be the first person to play Christmas music after Rememberance Day, I will always give the Veterans their time first.

      It is the retailers that bring out Christmas Music and decorations early. I read, in a marketing study, that if you show Christmas decorations, shoppers will be in a happier mode and therefore in thre mood to buy more.

      Money Money Money. When will people realise that:

      Christmas doesn’t come from a store
      Christmas … perhaps … means a little bit more. 🙂

  3. Deb Mukherjee says:

    5 weeks till my Christmas lights go from “never taken down” to “up early!”

    Great post. All this marketing is really making me hate the Holidays. Only four months till Easter and it’s all over.

    So tell, me, without being cliche, what you think the best part of the holidays is now? What can we salvage?

    • Bob Bonsall says:

      Honestly, I think the best part is the things that don’t depend on the stores. This might sound at least a little cliche, but it all depends on the things that make the season special for you, the things that the stores wish they could package and sell but never could. What are the things that the Whos down in Whoville kept even after the Grinch took everything else? It’s different for everyone. For me, it’s the little traditions that my family has (which reminds me, I still have to figure out where that piece of coal is; I want to slip it in my sister’s stocking again this year). For someone else it might just be the scent of baking a certain kind of cookies once a year. And hey, maybe it is standing in line at two in the morning to hit that doorbuster sale (you’re welcome to it, whoever you are). Whatever your special memory is, that’s the best part of the holidays, and that’s what we can salvage, because nobody has found a way to package and sell those to us yet.

  4. I just saw a funny thing on fb about a turkey chasing down Santa while screaming “It’s MY month dammit!”, this entry made me giggle, thanks for that. 🙂

  5. […] The War on Christmas « My Not So Humble Opinion. […]

  6. supashmo says:

    My wife and I were walking through Sears and saw a collection of Christmas Trees and thought, “Well, that’s pretty.” Then I realized. It was mid-October. Uh, what??

  7. obviouslyarose says:

    I totally get what you mean!
    In Australia we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving but Christmas is a totally different matter.
    This means that a few weeks before Halloween, the Christmas ware is already up and ready.
    At the moment, I’ve been seeing easter eggs and little bunnies creeping in from the sidelines too. We’ve got more than 5 months to go until Easter!

    • Bob Bonsall says:

      Are you serious with the Easter eggs and the bunnies? I thought I was kidding, I really did. I figured they’d at least try to sell us guys Valentine’s Day first.

  8. crankygiraffe says:

    I can’t agree more! When I think about Christmas and all the anticipation that gets built up because of shopping and vendors, I am reminded of Buddha’s idea that even the things we look forward to cause us suffering. Christmas is a special time, but we spend so much time (TOO much) time building up the anticipation and excitement for one day. We celebrate (or eat and travel and try to make everyone happy) for one day and then we are left empty and sad because, too quickly, the thing we have been looking forward to for way too long, is suddenly and violently ripped away from us. I might have to blog about this idea myself…

  9. Oh, so agree! I live in Alaska, about 15 miles from North Pole, Alaska, where it is always Christmas. I “get” that as a tourist attraction; more power to them, but the rest of the world really needs to stop being so stinking impatient. Thanksgiving is a great holiday. It gets me in the mood for Christmas. But it practically doesn’t exist in the marketplace. If it weren’t for turkeys going on sale, you’d miss it. And, I think that’s really sad because most people need some time to say “thank you for what I have” before rushing out to buy stuff nobody needs for people who probably don’t even really want it.

  10. TJ Johnston says:

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

    Based on the increasingly early arrival of the holiday season, I’d say Christmas (as personified by the marketing sector) has declared war on us. 😀

  11. merbear264 says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more!!

  12. edgeledge says:

    Totally agree, by the time the day comes around we are already over it. By the by we have Christmas in July here, because Christmas day is normally in the 100’s in the height of summer! Commercialisation of family celebrations and get togethers has tainted the magic.

  13. Dawn Akemi says:

    Yes, and don’t even get me started on the dilution of the magic of Christmas with politically correct notions of it’s appropriate nomenclature. Happy Holidays or Chriskwanzakkah or Whatever. LOL!

  14. Great post! Let me at least eat my Thanksgiving turkey first. I have to admit I’ve picked up one or two gift items and a few decorations because I was in the store the week before Thanksgiving and didn’t want to spend the gas and time to go back for more in two weeks. However, I really don’t want to hear anything about Christmas untill sometime mid November. Please don’t start it so early! Like you said, it’s special because it’s a small part of the year. If you spread the magic too thin, you squander it.

  15. marymtf says:

    What else is there to add to your fabulous article. You’ve said it all. It’s a totally different world that we are living in. For example,I love summer fruit and refuse to eat it any other time except for summer, won’t touch hot cross buns till the time is right. Here’s where people power has a chance to claw back the traditions.

  16. Have you ever seen the movie Elmo Saves Christmas? Sesame Street (like me) completely agrees with you!

  17. Carl says:

    Hey! I’ve had my tiny 2-foot fake x-mas tree up for five years. 🙂

    Yeah, I find it annoying. I live in a small town that respects it (mostly; except a chain store that rhymes with “night raid”). As long as houses and community events don’t start it until after Thanksgiving, that’s good news to me.

  18. It’s happening here in Australia too!! When I went out to look for some Halloween goodies a few weeks ago, I came across the first of the Christmas decorations. The day after Halloween, the amount of Christmas decorations on offer seemed to triple. By the first week in January, the Eater eggs will be appearing on the shelves.

    The only thing we can do is refuse to buy any of this early merchandise until closer to the events (and encourage your friends and family to do the same).

  19. jlsalinger says:

    I agree completely. It is quite irritating to see Christmans decorations when I am trying to decorate for Halloween!

  20. LoveStats says:

    I am so with you on this one. When one sixth of year is christmas season, it really detracts from the actual christmas season. The overdose of commercialism makes me like it less and less every year. 😦

  21. Rotten Ray says:

    I have seen Mame more than once and have never liked it but the point about Christmas is good. Everyone has their own opinion and here is mine from a couple of weeks ago:

    Now, I can say Merry Christmas and HO-HO-HO because I had turkey today, 11/17. In fact after today’s turkey and the leftovers all week, I may not eat any turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

  22. Michele says:

    Halloween? Consider yourselves lucky! Here in Western Australia, Christmas stuff starts appearing in the shops in September. Then you’ve got about four weeks after Christmas to shove all that leftover turkey and ham into your mouth before you have to start thinking about Easter. Hot cross buns hit the supermarket shelves at the end of January.

  23. megansimon says:

    Completely agree!
    Not to mention the Salvation Army Jingle Bell ringers are out earlier and earlier every year. They make me feel like such a grinch when I don’t want to say “Happy Holiday’s” for the 2 months they are out there and I don’t make a donation every time I frequent the stores.
    You’re frustrations are shared 🙂

  24. Created ~ says:

    My sentiments exactly! 🙂

  25. This post is dead on. I’ve come to dislike the holidays, because they blend together into one fall-palooza of overeating and overshopping. Since I have a kid, I still have to go through the motions, but I find our holidays getting smaller and smaller and it’s a good thing. You’re right – it really does stop being special if it’s blasted at us for 4 months straight.

  26. True as true can be. And that’s pretty true, if I do say so myself. Sometimes it takes the Grinch to save Christmas.

  27. Pam says:

    I used to teach in K-12 schools and noticed an absence ot anticipation on the kids’ part. Sadly that goes for high schoolers as well as kindergarten kids. I remember Thanksgiving was just that. We didn’t see Christmas decorations up until the Saturday after, and that was when we went Downtown to see the animated windows at Ayres and Blocks. We’d see chocolate turkeys still in Fannie May’s window (I was so fascinated by molded chocolate, still am). The holiday was beautiful, and as I’ve grown older its still beautiful now that the spiritual side finally sank in. I don’t need twinkle lights or animated store windows to remind me the miracle of the season.. Mercants and money grubs can try to ruin it all they want, but Christmas is still Christmas to me.

  28. lexiesnana says:

    I even got mad when one of the kids wanted to dress up like a Christmas Tree for this

  29. Jamie says:

    That’s one of the best first sentence of a blog…ever!!!

  30. The turkeys must really have hurt feelings regarding their yearly oversight. I’m with you.

  31. ssrijana says:

    i love Christmas time
    though i am a Hindu and never seen anyone celebrating it well except on movies and TV i know its a special time all festivals are and we all have a special way to celebrate it commercialization has ruined everything 😦 .

  32. Reblogged this on ryanmacadangdang and commented:
    The War on Christmas

  33. 4am2hoursago says:

    On Halloween I went to the grocery store in search of a pumpkin and with no luck I asked for assistance. They weren’t out of pumpkins, they were hidden by the Christmas decor!! While I do think it is absolutely ridiculous, there must be a demand. Big business is trying to make a quick buck and the consumer falls for it.

  34. Having been in retail my entire life, I know firsthand the frustration of receiving Christmas freight with back to school freight! It’s just wrong! I believe each holiday should have its day. I WILL NOT put up a single Christmas ornament until Halloween & Thanksgiving have been celebrated and given their due.

  35. pattyabr says:

    I’m with you, it comes way too early every year side by side with the Halloween decorations in the store. I am actually trying to enjoy Thanksgiving which does come between Halloween and Christmas. I really hate that two radio stations in town, started playing the Christmas music as of November 1st.

    Now that I work full time, it just takes too much energy to decorate for Christmas in advance. I get a few things up but the focus is on the tree and that gets up maybe 2-3 days before Christmas. The good news is the trees will be discounted and it won’t stay up that long to dry out. We’ll enjoy it for Christmas and New Year and then out to recycle.

  36. SimplySage says:

    Thank you so much for saying it. It’s way out of control.

  37. Argus says:

    In New Zealand it’s commercialism in extremis. The Xmas blurbs and store displays started weeeeeks ago—and Christmas here is summer solstice. Yuk.

    The cash and till-bells may have translated to the southern hemisphere but all the good things (especially the Christmas VIBE) haven’t. People here simply don’t understand so it’s become a custom and routine chore; it’s just another rite-of-passge and an opportunity (a duty, in fact) to outdo the neighbours.

    NEW RULE: anything you give anyone has to be something you made from scratch yourself. Likewise Xmas cards. And your ‘festive’ dinner has to be entirely cooked (team effort) by the family (guests may relax in the next room).

    And the first person to say “Bah, humbug!” gets laid out with a stake of sharpened holly through his heart …

    • Bob Bonsall says:

      I like most of your suggestions, but I’m keeping my “Bah, humbug!” It does wonders to soothe the soul when walking past the fifteenth Christmas display I’ve seen that day. And I still haven’t had breakfast.

  38. Christmas is meant for December. One holiday at a time please.

  39. It was two or three weeks before Halloween that I saw Home Depot had set up their Christmas section. I was disgusted too. My feelings were intensified by the garishness of the decorations. Who needs a 10 ft. Tall snow globe in their front yard even if it was Christmas?
    Which it’s not.

    • Bob Bonsall says:

      Okay, in fairness, I aspire to have the most garishly decorated house of them all someday, but that’s more a tribute to my father and a throwback to my youth than anything else. I remember the 70’s style Christmas lights with the HUGE bulbs, and people putting so many lights on their houses there was a good chance the house would catch fire. Yes, it’s tacky, and yes, it’s all about outdoing the neighbors, and yes, it’s more about competition than the real spirit of the holidays, but… I’m sure I was going somewhere with this.

  40. iRuniBreathe says:

    I can only totally agree. I wrote a post about just this:
    Let’s give Santa (and our eyes and ears) a well-deserved break to keep Christmas special.

  41. I hate early christmas! I avoid main-stream things like mad (I even try to avoid stores) so I’m lucky. I am one of those who hears the jingle bells of a pre-turkey-day-christmas-based-commercial on the radio and I scoff and turn off my radio. So in the end I manage to avoid most of it. But when I run into something like Walgreens for a quick something-or-another it makes me really mad.
    This year I regret not shopping way early… But never for the things they have in those terrible displays!

  42. I was just telling a friend today that I’m depressed over Christmas because we’re so broke, and our family is 800 miles away, and I prob can’t get anyone gifts. My friend said he was pretty sure Jesus would be pissed off about how stressed people get over our commercialized Christmas.
    And to be honest, the bible never says when Jesus was born. I read that the 25th was chosen by the Church. Some say it was chosen to compete with/replace a pagan ritual that also occurred around that time. When viewed in that light, it’s almost a little depressing. I guess if you believe in Jesus, it wouldn’t matter when you celebrated, but the idea that the Church handpicked that day as basically a religious-political move makes it feel less special somehow.
    All the super early, uber-consumerism makes it that much worse.

  43. anonymama7 says:

    Some stores have christmas dedicated isles before 4th of July. Now that is ridiculous.

  44. I usually anounce that aloud when I hear any workers in that aisle.

  45. I am also from Canada and am becoming more and more irritated by the lack of respect demonstrated when the Christmas crap intrudes on a solemn occasion such as Nov. 11. It’s a real thrill, too, when I trip over the jingle bells while hunting for the Hallowe’en pumpkins – or, is that tripping over the jingling pumpkins while hunting for the Hallowe’en bells? The Hallowed jugglers while hunting for the bellowing pumps? Can’t remember anymore. It all looks the same to me.

  46. I’m Canadian too and all the stores had Christmas set up on November 1st. 😛

  47. As a person who works for a major retailer, I can tell you that there are a lot of people looking to start their christmas shopping early…For instance, nowadays it can take as much as a month to get packages to a military base overseas…So, we get a lot of requests from military family members for christmas gift items in late october and early november…

    Please support the troops by not complaining about trivial things…

    • Bob Bonsall says:

      I totally get shopping early, and if folks are looking for gifts to send overseas I understand they need them early. But if I read your post correctly, are you suggesting they are looking for Christmas decorations to ship to troops overseas? If so, I have to admit that’s a new one on me.

      If you’re going to invoke the “support the troops” argument, you need to make sure you’re on firm ground. I just buried my father in Arlington Cemetery yesterday, so believe me when I say supporting the troops is something I understand. This may seem trivial to you, but obviously it is not trivial to me or to a lot of other people, judging by the comments. If folks are looking for holiday decorations to send overseas, I’m sure they need look no further than the basement or garage; if they don’t have any there, they can swing by my house, or any other on my street, and just ask. We have plenty, we will gladly give to “support the troops”, and I can always buy more. AFTER Thanksgiving.

  48. You hit the nail on the head. Words to my thoughts! Great post!

  49. calviness says:

    You call this post the “war” on Christmas – I agree, arms up ladies and gents. It’s time to tackle that Christmas Tree that the mall put up before Halloween! This is war!

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