Thanksgiving Comes First
It was not yet Halloween when I saw the first of the Xmas crap on the shelves. Home Deport started selling Birth-of-Jesus merchandise at least two weeks previously to Devil’s Day. I guess if you were an evangelical it makes sense – you need the power of Jesus to fight Satan. Somehow, though, I don’t think that Home Depot thought along those lines. Instead, the Marketplace show on WBUR summed it up – Xmas starts early because the economy is in the shitter.
I complained about this to a friend in Germany. He didn’t quite get it. “So,” he asked, “Xmas is the most important sales season and to keep the numbers up they change when it starts? Stupid Americans. You care about nothing.” And he’s right. We don’t. America cheapens just about everything it touches.
Think about this – The Christmas Tree Store is open 365 days a year. In the musty recesses of my brain, I remember when it opened just for Christmas, like the Halloween stores that climb into empty mall space like a hermit crab. How does the Christmas Tree store stay open 365 days a year, you may wonder? By selling an awful lot of non-Christmas items. How, then, do they get the gumption to keep the name The Christmas Tree store? I’m not sure. I think it’s the same paradigm that allows Joe Lieberman to continue to call himself a democrat.
The big question is – why does no one care? I’m too lazy to look up the numbers right now but America’s top God is still Jesus. Christmas (and it’s probably is worth jogging people’s memory) celebrates the birth of the savior of mankind. The guy let his dad nail him to a cross on trumped up charges so that we could sin and then be forgiven for it later. I think that’s the story. Given that, the wages of sin should not be used to buy Tickle-Me-Elmo 5.0 in October. You shouldn’t even need to be a “good” Christian to get peeved about corporate America using Jesus to sell product let alone starting a full two months before the actual date.
Like Suldog (the genesis of this post), I remember the tingling feeling that started just after Thanksgiving dinner. On Friday, we’d pull out the Christmas decorations and begin the long, slow, torturous build up to Christmas. Looking back, it was like Sixty Minute Man for kids. We decked our hallways, hung our Little Cowboy Christmas story that my mom cut out from a magazine and pasted on red and green construction paper. “Will there be a present/Will there be a tree”, it started. I got chills writing that but my 45-year old self now remembers that Jesus didn’t make an appearance. Still, we could go into the basement and look at the boxes but you did not touch the boxes until after Thanksgiving. I’m not really sure what would have happened if we did, but I wasn’t about to be the one that found out. And I didn’t want to. It was too magical a feeling to spoil.
“Hey,” I asked the manager at CVS as I stood next to the talking Hannah Montana Xmas cards, “why is the Christmas stuff out before Halloween?”
He barely slowed down to mutter, “We always put it out around then,” before shuttling off, probably to make sure the SpongeBob Xmas tree ornaments occupied the proper width of shelf space required by the corporate office.
Like so many issues in America, we’ve gone too far. Christmas will continue to start earlier and earlier. A Labor Day Xmas? Why not? The Christmas Tree Store will already be open.
Here are my two suggestions, each worth two cents.
1) Get a group of folks together in your town to have a “Start Your Xmas 2008 Shopping Now” rally.
2) If you’re a Christian, tell your pastor to work the phones of your version of Christianity to pressure the CEO of your denomination to protest the further cheapening of the savior. If they balk, tell them they won’t see a dime in the collection plate.
After all, money talks.