I’ve already admitted to being an Advent nag. It was the first post I ever presented, but I feel like something’s gotten away from me the last couple of years. There’s no longer any need to be an Advent nag. Perhaps it is my reluctance to shop in stores other than thrift stores, or small independent shops; perhaps it’s that I haven’t really watched any commercial television for the last three years (before that, I watched virtually no TV, and then, as now, only on my computer); perhaps it’s that I was just not exposing myself to the retail notion of Chrismoween: A strange holiday that begins in late October and promptly ends five days before the end of Christmas on New Year’s Day.
I knew that stores started putting out Christmas decorations for sale right after Hallowe’en, but this year the Christmas celebration seemed to start in early November, and the Hallowe’en celebration just goes on with the American discovery of a traditional Alpine character: Krampus. I’ve written about Krampus before, too: it was my second post. With Krampuslauf popping up all over the United States it seems that a culture already obsessed with death (think onesies with skull motifs) is just carrying the morbid aspects of Hallowe’en into Christmas. Granted, Advent is a penitential season, and the first Sunday of Advent is traditionally focused on death, but the Monday following Advent 1 is not All Saint’s Day.
Memory is a strange thing, and some things that we remember are false (or are false memories born of a warped sense of nostalgia), but I’m sure that I can remember Thanksgiving being celebrated as its own holiday. I can remember images of pilgrims, turkeys and Indians (as we called them back then) going up in windows along with giant cornucopia overflowing with pumpkins, corn and apples all set amidst autumn leaves. The greatest question of precedence on the day itself was regarding to what we owed the most attention: hearth and home or football. And really football, for most people, was something watched on television: by the hearth in the home, or if one was attending a game, there was a turkey waiting on the table at home with friends and family gathered ’round.
Of course, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has become the kickoff to the “Holiday Season.” It was noted this morning that the parade was originally called the Macy’s Christmas Parade. There is an interesting transition in the parade from Thanksgiving with the giant turkey float at the beginning to the Santa float at the end, but it is an actual transition, and it appropriately begins with Thanksgiving. But what does that mean when, for the last three weeks, we’ve been seeing Christmas trees and hearing Christmas music everywhere we go? What does it mean when “holiday” commercials have been running on television and appearing in print and in the subway? This year, Thanksgiving coincides with Chanukah. It’ll be interesting to see if the menorahs are up in January.
I must admit that I’m a bit conflicted. On one hand, I want people to be free to do as they choose; on the other hand, I miss certain blue laws. I didn’t mind not being able to buy alcohol on Sunday, and I don’t think I’d mind stores not being open on Thanksgiving. We don’t, however, have such a blue law, one that keeps the stores closed so that people may actually celebrate our national day of thanks together without the worry of work. I doubt that there’ll be a new blue law, but we can make a difference with just how and when we spend our money. We can Pledge to Not Shop on Thanksgiving. I would even take it a step further.
If businesses feel that they will make more money by starting Christmas selling and marketing early, why not prove them wrong? I would suggest a boycott of all shops, malls and any other institution that put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. Some of the ones I’ve noticed are: The Time Warner Center, Whole Foods, Planters Nuts, Home Depot, and the film Best Man’s Holiday (there are so many other reasons to boycott that last one). And when you see Christmas- or seasonally inappropriate decorations going up, or music being played, speak out. Personally speak out. Write a letter, speak to the manager of the store. File a formal complaint, and take your money elsewhere. Let’s return to a holiday that probably never really looked like this:
Rather than one that really does look like this:Thank God for our better nature!