The commercials began last Monday. A Sizzlin' Express restaurant had their lighted snowmen and jolly elves in their windows on Tuesday. The Harris Teeter grocery store had its green and red bunting surrounding large stacks of gravy packets, Durkee's french-fried-onions-in-a-can, multiple flavors of Campbell's cream soups, cans of Green Giant green beans, and a veritable truckload of those red and green sparkly candy sprinkles (what we'd call "Jimmies" in New England) by Wednesday.
So tell me. How sad is your daily life if you start getting jazzed for a holiday that is 38 days in the future? Would I wear my Halloween costume on October 10th just to "get in the spirit"?! Would I have my Valentine's Day candy dish out around January 5th just to, you know, "be festive"? What is with this? I totally understand the religious concept of Advent; the waiting, the expectation, the hope and joy in the impending birth of the Savior. I'm totally with you on that whole scene. But how does that translate into wearing Santa earrings and reindeer sweaters a full month and a half before the baby is due?
As I look back on all my jobs (and there have been plenty), I realize that the people spearheading the Early Christmas Movement were the ones who had the unhappiest lives both in and out of work. And yes, I'm including YOU, Ms. Martha Stewart. You masquerade as the person doing all the Christmas trimmings because it brings you such ineffable joy and contentment, but let's be honest. Your husband left you for a younger woman, your daughter was barely speaking to you till you went to prison, your employees hated/feared/loathed you, and you are not Martha Stewart of Turkey Hill or Greenwich Connecticut or Newport Rhode Island. You are little Marty Kostyra from Nutley New Jersey trying to find some meaning in her unfulfilled life by perfecting her Christmas sugar cookies in late October.
It's just so sad as I look back on it. The middle-aged women with the entire set of seasonal sweaters that they break out the day after Thanksgiving, and sometimes the day before. The earrings with the Santas that light up and say "Ho Ho Ho" (presumably not referencing the wearer of said earrings), the ornaments and doodads all over the desk and on the computer (that may or may not be removed between Christmas 2005 and Christmas 2006). From whence does this tragic set of circumstances come and how can it be dealt with kindly but firmly?
I think perhaps the following rule of thumb may help: Putting your lights up on December 1st is festive. Putting them up on November 19th is just plain desperate. Lights put up before December 1st will be pulled down on the grounds that one cannot begin celebrating a major national holiday BEFORE one has celebrated the major national holiday that precedes it.
With that in mind on this beautiful Thanksgiving Day, I wish you all a very happy new year.