The day after Thanksgiving is the official start of the Christmas season. At least that’s how it was in our house growing up. That’s when my brother and I would help my parents put up the Christmas lights on the house. There was an inside team and an outside team. The inside team were the light checkers, and the outside team were the light putter-uppers. While we did all of this we would graze on the Thanksgiving leftovers all-day long. And of course to set the mood, we would start jamming the Christmas tunes. Christmas music in November!? It’s so early, what’s wrong with you!?
Yeah, that’s what people used to think. Between my parents, my brother and I, we collectively had approximately 100 Christmas albums. When I would reveal this fact to friends in high school or college, it was as if I confessed I collected marionettes.
“Wow, I didn’t realize there were so many versions of Jingle Bells,” they’d say with shifty eyes while looking for the exit.
People would wearily ask, “You really listen to music for the whole month of December?”
I was that guy. I was that over-excited Christmas nut. I even organized Christmas movie marathons with my family while I was in high school. Even they thought that was a bit much. But I tied them to the couch and made them watch anyway. It was a jolly thing to do dammit!
But somewhere, somehow things have changed. Even though I haven’t changed and I still consider Thanksgiving to be the official kick-off to the Christmas season, I’ve been labeled a scrooge. A Grinch even. Me!?
What happened? How did November 1st become the start of the Christmas holiday season? What happened to the rest of fall? One day people are drinking pumpkin spice lattes, eating Halloween candy and watching horror movies, and the next day they’re drinking gingerbread lattes while queuing up the Hallmark holiday movies and blasting Mariah Carey’s All I want For Christmas.
What happened over night? Well, it really wasn’t overnight was it? The stores have been creeping in the holiday merchandise into the stores since October. During our normal grocery shopping trips we are slowly being brainwashed. In the dairy aisle you start to see egg nog. That’s the first sign. Then you start to see the Christmas cookie tins in the bakery area. And then the popcorn tins. And the gift sets start showing up on the end caps of aisles. And while we are just trying to focus on your grocery list, these images provoke thoughts in our subconscious minds.
“Christmas is coming… Parties, gifts, dinners, cookies, cakes, stockings, cards, decorations, lights… SALE, SALE, SALE!”
And then these thoughts grow into anxiety.
“You’re behind. You’re going to miss it. Everything. All of it. Don’t you want it to be magical? Think of your children. Better be prepared this year. Do you really want to be a Scrooge again?”
AHHHHH! It’s only October!!!
So it really doesn’t happen over-night. We’ve been marketed at and manipulated for weeks, so it’s no surprise that come morning on November 1st you hear Christmas music in the stores and on the radio. The switch-over has been complete.
I heard a woman talking on the radio (in early November) how she only listens to Christmas music in her car now because her husband doesn’t want to hear that stuff until after Thanksgiving. “He’s such a Scrooge!” she said.
A scrooge!? It’s early-November! That’s perfectly normal.
I felt personally attacked. How did I go from being the over-excited Christmas nut to being a Scrooge without changing anything I did? I can’t think about Santa and Christmas trees while I’m still stealing my kid’s Halloween candy. I just can’t do it. Despite the pressure from the advertisers and retailers, I’ll continue to hold onto the fall season as long as I can. To enjoy the crunch of the leaves and the peaceful stillness fall can provide. And to do so without the burden of the holidays occupying my mind. After all, there is still a whole month for that after Thanksgiving. And if that makes me a Scrooge, then so be it. I’m a Scrooge.