By Craig Hastings
Why does the commercial retail business community continue to compress the calendar months? As if my time here isn’t passing me by swiftly enough already. I love Halloween, always have, and Halloween has for me always been my marker for the autumn season. This is the time of year I pay attention to football, leaves turning color and falling to the ground, cold rainy days like today, some days wearing shorts, and maybe the next day a light jacket. I’ve told you before that I stage the interior of my home with Halloween decor. My boys still seem to enjoy it as much as I do and should any of their friends come over, there’s always a comment. I set up the first day or two in October and take it all down on November 1. October has always been my Halloween and Autumn month. I’ve not given one thought to Christmas or even Thanksgiving until Halloween is over.
I’ve been complaining for a few years about the earlier and earlier advertisements promoting Christmas. When I was a kid, Thanksgiving day was always, always, the traditional day that any thought of the upcoming Christmas season would be mentioned. It was after Thanksgiving that my three brothers and sister Tracy would call dibs on the Sears, Montgomery Wards, and JC Penny’s Christmas catalogs. We studied these three catalogs night and day. We changed our minds on our first, second, and third most wanted toy choices daily.
Tonight I’m complaining louder than ever. There are still five days remaining in
October and ten days ago I heard on the news that Wal Mart was promoting early Christmas purchasing now. So much for Thanksgiving Black Friday Christmas sales celebration. It was hard to believe. I had to go see for myself so I drove to the Wal Mart in Savoy. Sure enough, the store is decorated for Christmas and there are Christmas “specials” throughout. What’s worse, this becomes a virus. Every other retail store, regardless of what they sell, follow suit and drag out their own Christmas decorations.
Having been a child in the 60’s and 70’s I really dislike these retailers taking the excitement and crazy anticipation out of the Christmas experience for children. How can children today experience the same “I just can’t wait until…” moment that my generation and those before mine were so fortunate to live the thirty days or so before Christmas Eve? Maybe kids today are different than those of my generation. Maybe they simply don’t care as much as we did. It could be parents today don’t promote and encourage anticipation of the whole Santa, reindeer, elves, Nativity, and peace on earth themes and how each meld to the other during the Christmas season. And that season doesn’t start in October, not for me anyway.
If I were to have newborns today I wonder how I would navigate all of the months long Christmas season with my children. Somehow I would have to come up with a plan and stick with that plan until they no longer believed or cared much. I found this to be about the age of thirteen with my own two boys. This was the age when they transitioned from asking me for specific gifts to; “Just give me money dad”. Yeah that was a sad age for me. And I would have a plan and I’d plant incentives in my plan so they would want to follow it. But you say; “Craig you’re forcing your own beliefs of how to navigate the Christmas season on them. What makes your way the best way,” you ask?
It’s a fair question. Believe it or not even I have read the Bible, some parts more than others, and some of it I never have been able to grasp the meaning of Chapter and verse. I admit that I’m best described to be a simpleton. Therefore I don’t nor won’t try to make something more than it appears to be. Correct me if I missed the part where people “ A” are designated to make a lot of money by selling things they own to people “B” so people “B” could gift these retailed things commemorating the birth of Jesus. No, I remember just the three Wise Men each bearing one gift with no retail value of sorts. Their value was symbolic. Gold represented kings and Jesus was King of Kings. Frankincense was a scent used in worship in church and people would worship Jesus in churches. Myrrh is a perfume used on the dead. Christians believed that even though Jesus was a gift from God, he was of human form and therefore Jesus one day would also die.
So here’s where I’m at with commercialization of the Christmas season. Christmas shopping events have gone off the rails. I don’t think there is any longer a real connection with gifting and Christmas. The intended meaning of gifting friends, family, and those in need has long passed us by here in America. It’s probably not fair for me to include 100 percent of the population. I’m sure there are people that still do everything they can to extract the true intended meaning of gifting at Christmas. When my own sons were pre teens I believed in the celebration of gifting at Christmas, what it represented, and how it was much different than gifting on say, my boys birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
I think a change is needed. Commercial retail needs to take the lead on this. Leave Christmas and Santa out of everything retail sales promotional up until a predetermined date. I pick November 25. Only because I’m selfish and this is the day my generation lived by and it worked for us little kids back in the day. Up until November 25, the retail industry should only use wording like; “Holiday Sale”, “Holiday Promotion”, “Holiday Extravaganza”, Winter Blowout Sale”, whatever. Please just leave the words Christmas and Santa out of everything sales promotional until November 25. It could be that it’s me that’s gone off the rails. Why does it matter? Why do I even care? My boys are past the age of the excitement of Christmas anticipation. Could it be that there is still some of that little kid still living in me? Is it really me that wants to feel the crazy anticipation of Christmas Eve? Am I being selfish because things change and I want them to stay the way I remember them? Probably the answer to the last three questions is “yes”. And if I was guaranteed twenty more good, strong, healthy years of life I would have my own again and I’d live the experience through them just as I did with my first two…even if nobody else was.