Saturday, December 01, 2007

The 90 Days of Christmas

Ho, ho, hold on.

Last year a priest gently admonished me for having my Christmas tree up during Advent. “It’s a season of waiting and anticipation,” he explained, encouraging me to observe Anglican custom and decorate the tree on Christmas Eve. (Maybe that’s why the cats pulled it down: they’re traditionalists.)

I like Christmas. A lot. But this year, it has been made abundantly clear to me that there can definitely be too much of a good thing.

When I was 19, I took a semester off from college to earn money for my imminent transfer to New York, and spent the holiday season working at the Williams-Sonoma at Pioneer Place in downtown Portland. I recall that I had to work late on Thanksgiving in order to decorate the store in holiday fashion for Black Friday. That’s right, not a garland or bow or bauble or twinkly light or treacly carol until The Day After Thanksgiving, when suddenly the mall burst into yuletide splendor.

This year, the retail holiday season seems to have started around October 1. That’s about the time I noticed that my local Fred Meyer store had cleared out the patio furniture and replaced the tables and lounges with pre-lit trees, ornaments, and inflatable Santas. Seriously, October.

I recognize that this is largely due to the retail world’s anxiety about the economy. As I now work for a giant apparel company and my bonus next year depends on our sales figures, I’m not unsympathetic. It’s even worked to my advantage because I bought my new tree (7.5 feet! Yes, I am a Christmas Size Queen, which can be sung nicely to the tune of “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer”) at a great price at the pre-season sale.

Still, it seems to me that the magic of the season is muted, and I suspect that’s largely because I’ve been seeing holiday displays in the stores for two months now. I thought stores changed from “Merry Christmas” to “Seasons’ Greetings” as an act of sensitivity, but now it’s appropriate because Christmas literally lasts for three months.

I am reminded of the exchange between Ebenezer Scrooge and his nephew: “You keep Christmas in your way, and let me keep it in mine.” “Keep it? But you don’t keep it!”



Anonymous said...

OK Big Boy show us a picture of the tree!

Andy said...

It's not up yet, it's still in the box. I'm planning on putting it up next Saturday.

Neel Mehta said...

Every time I hear the line "It's the most wonderful time of the year"...

1. I die a little inside.
2. I get justifiably homicidal.

It's Christmas, a perfectly nice concept. Quit trying to sell it to me.

Mike said...

If you get time, please have a look at my spoof of Inflatable Lawn Decor.

Jade said...

When I worked at the portrait studio in the Beaverton Mall we would set up one Christmas tree sometime in October, because there were always a few customers who wanted to get their family Christmas portraits done early. Our "official season" (read: 12 hour days) started the day after Halloween. I always found it odd to have a Halloween portrait booth set up in one room, and Christmas right next door, at the same time. The mall itself would be decorated over night after Halloween, to burst forth in yuletide splendor November first. By the time December rolled around I was sick of it all.

And usually sick. Working with tons of kids day in and day out, 12 hour shifts... germs. Bah.

The main reason I quit working there was to be able to *enjoy* the holiday season again.

little-cicero said...

"I recall that I had to work late on Thanksgiving in order to decorate the store in holiday fashion for Black Friday."

In terms of stereotypes, isn't that equivalent to keeping the Jew after work the day before the IRS pays a visit?