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Darth Vader Meets Santa Claus
Halloween is not quite here, so naturally the mailman is coming to my door loaded with Christmas catalogs.
I’m surprised. They’re kind of late this year.
Every autumn I complain about this. Then again, as has frequently been pointed out to me, you can set your calendar by my complaints: October, Christmas catalogs. November, crazed weathermen creating snow panics; December, Christmas decorations that play electronic music; January, the return of crazed weathermen creating snow panics, and so on.
To which I say: How do things get so screwy with such regularity?
Anyway, back to October and the catalogs.
What’s the hurry? Good gravy, Christmas is two months away. Two. Apply that span to any other time of the year. Do we start getting Flag Day catalogs in April? Are we counting the days between July and Labor Day? Do the stores put up Easter decorations while we’re still in the dead of winter?
Actually, on that last one, yes. They do. Nothing like pastel colored M&Ms to make a blizzard more tolerable.
I’m told the reason the Christmas catalog bombardment begins so early is that retailers are scared of a "soft" holiday, soft being the word for what the rest of us would call hard times. The sooner they start, the thinking goes, the more they’ll sell. Thus the answer to a soft holiday is a hard sell, lest the economy go soft and we fall upon hard times.
I didn’t have that semester of economics with Mr. Rodeghiero for nothing.
Well, this year I can buy the soft-holiday hard-sell thing. The economy still has Boogeyman status for most of us, and there’s lots of talk about how this year might not be quite the bountiful holiday season we’ve known in the past and it’ll probably just involve new socks and underwear from Yoder’s Department Store this time. Thanks for the buzzkill, Mom. Nice spirit you’re showing there.
So this year, I get it. But that doesn’t explain the 19 years leading up to this one when the catalogs arrived and the stores became Christmas Wonderlands while the Darth Vader costumes were still on the shelves.
Think about the kids for a minute. Can you imagine how confusing that must be? You wind up with Vader Claus: "I’m your father, Luke. Ho ho ho."
Now, I do see some good news this year: Thanksgiving seems to be fighting back. As Halloween morphed from a 100% Kid Holiday to a Boomer Bacchanalia, Thanksgiving looked like it was turning into nothing more than the big meal halfway between Trick Or Treat and Deck The Halls. In the last few years, though, large numbers of food fans have led the charge to restore Thanksgiving to its rightful place as one of, if not THE best, American holidays, and not just for the eats. For that, I am thankful indeed.
All things considered, then, I guess I should just resign myself to the fact that the holiday madness now has a mid-October starting date, and there’s not a lot I can do about it. The stores and catalogs are going to do what they want, when they want, and complaining won’t change a thing.
Except the calendar. I’ll just have to find something new to gripe about this time of year. I think I’ll go see what the weathermen are up to.
© 2009 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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