For weeks now we’ve been receiving word – Christmas is out in many stores.
Summer arts and craft festivals feature Christmas goodies, artists are recording holiday albums in studios, and later this week the world marks Leon Day – the halfway point to Christmas. Hallmark is releasing their catalog of new Christmas ornaments and the cable shopping channels are gearing up for hours and hours of “Christmas-in-July”.
Christmas, it seems, is everywhere.
But something is missing. Do you know what it is?
It is the absence of complaint.
It is the silence of un-merry dissent.
It is the non-cry of the unsettled, uncomfortable-with-early Christmas citizen.
Welcome to the Christmas Creep-free Zone, friends. Enjoy this while it lasts.
Christmas in America traditionally means a season of contrasting expression. You have the religious Christmas celebrant versus the secular Christmas fanatic.
There is the holiday whacko against the holiday grump.
You’ll hear arguments between those who think Christmas comes too early versus those who prefer it every day.
But we’re not there yet. Right now there is an odd very Christmas-like thing going on: it is called peace.
The Christmas Creep-free Zone is in full force and between now and the end of July. Christmas will have a free-for-all — and there will be little complaint about it.
That’s because the Grinches, Scrooges, and morally indignant among us won’t be on their Christmas game for at least another month.
But come August 1st – look out.
That’s when the first reports of “Christmas creep” really start to roll in.
A news reporter will roll into Sears or Costco and see Christmas stacked everywhere – and then write a scathing essay about “Christmas creep”. In some places, the TV stations will send out a reporter for a “live update”. (No, we’re not kidding).
But the battle is really just warming up.
Starbucks and other outlets will begin to sell “pumpkin spice” goodies in August.
Pumpkin is usually associated with the fall months but it is really, in its evil way, just a precursor to Christmas.
As the air wafts with the aroma of pumpkin-spice everything the slumbering anti-Christmas forces will rally. And for at least four long months – longer than Christmas really lasts – they will cry in agony about Christmas.
The pattern is the same every year.
August is the time to complain about Costco, Sam’s Club, Hobby Lobby (which has really had Christmas out since May), Kmart, Sears and others who fill emptying garden spaces with Christmas merchandise.
September is when the first commercials touting holiday layaway programs in places like Walmart and Kmart surface. These really raise the ire of Christmas party poopers.
October is Christmas-versus-Halloween Season – when complaints that Christmas is overshadowing Halloween are very much in fashion.
Yes, Halloween is just a day while Christmas lasts for weeks but that’s no reason to be selling lights and blow mold snowmen, they will argue.
Then comes November 1st, the Queen Mother of days to complain about Christmas creep.
Radio stations everywhere now boldly flip the switch to Christmas music while at the same time radio talk show hosts take to the air to complain about it.
“It is an outrage!” they will claim.
(What they really mean is that November and December are ratings nightmare season for radio talk show hosts because people would rather hear the cheery sounds of the season over their blow-hard opinions).
As the malls start to hang the garlands and light their trees newspapers will take pictures and mock.
On social media the anti-Christmas forces will post clever memes and pass petitions to “save Thanksgiving” from the evil clutches of retailers who demand Christmas now.
Even as stores post weeks-before-Thanksgiving “blockbuster” deals in advance of Black Friday consumer websites and magazines, political commentators who no longer have an election to drone on about, and even some parent support groups will universally complain about the commercialism of Christmas and how it can all wait until December.
In recent years a subset of complaint features a naughty list of sorts: stores that decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving are criticized while stores that refuse to put up Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving are praised.
In this light Nordstrom’s will be talked about like the Second Coming of Abraham Lincoln. Nary a Christmas bauble will be found in their windows before Thanksgiving. But don’t be fooled. It’s all there, behind a plain paper wrapping and a snotty sign declaring “We celebrate our holidays one day at a time!”. It stays that way for days – until, of course, Thanksgiving finally ends and they rip it off to great fanfare. Oh, the humanity of it all.
Some who weary of this routine think, “Thank goodness Thanksgiving comes to release us from all this negativity!”, but no – there is no mercy.
In reality the Christmas complainers are just getting started.
First, there are the anti-God billboards in Times Square and around the country to put up with. The post-Thanksgiving time frame is, well, Christmas season for those who oppose organized religion to, well, organize in a sense and proselyte. Using images sacred to believers they will say it is ok to celebrate Christmas without God. It’s an odd bit of anti-Christmas noise to endure every season.
Then, somewhere, a school music teacher will have the nerve to put “Silent Night” into a school Christmas performance. An anonymous letter will be written to the school board, somehow Fox News will hear about it, the pundits will cry for weeks that Christmas is under attack, but they’ll just replace “Silent Night” with “Frosty the Snowman” and the world will go on – somehow.
By now, it’s December and you’d think everyone would just shut up and enjoy the season.
No. Not on your merry life.
There will be nativity scenes on courthouse lawns to complain about. Then there’s the out-of-stock situation on the hottest toy or video game of the season (no doubt, it’s Star Wars themed). And, of course, singing Christmas carols in veteran hospitals will rear its ugly head yet again.
Finally, a week before Christmas it all dies down. After all, it’s Christmas.
So enjoy the next six weeks. This is really when the season of anticipating Christmas begins. For many, it comes at the height of summer. For others, it is the dead of winter. After all, Christmas is worldwide. And everyone enjoys peace.