Wednesday, October 01, 2008
You may recall - with fondness, it is hoped - this semi-Quixotic campaign from last year. At that time, I had become fed up with early Christmas advertising, and so I railed against it in this space. I was pleasantly surprised by how many folks felt the same as I did, as well as tremendously gratified when most of them tried to do something to help the cause.
Well, here we go again.
I haven't seen any Christmas advertising yet, Thank God. However, the problem with trying to bring about social change, when it specifically involves a time period in the near future, is that you might have to start fighting for it earlier than you'd prefer. If you don't start early enough, the results end up as they did last year: satisfying on a moral level, while not an overwhelming success in actually stemming the tide.
Unfortunately, by starting earlier, you run the risk of somewhat defeating your own purpose. You bring Christmas advertising into the forefront of people's thinking even sooner than the greedy sons of bitches whom you're trying to stop.
I'd rather just sit back and not be bothered. So would you, of course. If I do that, though, I'll certainly regret it later on. I have to at least make an effort to have some effect on this situation. If I don't, I'll have no right to bitch and moan later :-)
So, here's an abridged version of what I wrote, last year, at the start of the campaign. I'm open to your suggestions concerning actions we might take. Please feel free to comment as liberally as you'd like. Of course, if you'll help in the ways already outlined within the body of what follows, I'd be extremely thankful.
(Much of this will be lost on my good friends from other lands, I'm afraid. Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October, while other countries don't celebrate it at all. If you're not from the U.S., I hope you won't become too bored as I return to this subject over the coming weeks. Thanks for your forebearance.)
When I was a kid, Christmas was magical. The lights were colorful and amazing, making the night a warm, bright, wonderful place to be, even if it was 20 degrees outside and the snow was up to your waist in drifts. When you heard a Christmas carol, it gave you the same sorts of butterflies in your stomach that would be associated with love at a later time in your life. Cities and towns put up decorations on the main streets, with the larger municipalities erecting lovely Christmas trees in central spots.
All of the above worked, on such a spectacular level, because it happened at an appropriate time. No retailer (or city or homeowner) dared to breach the unofficial line of demarcation – Thanksgiving. It was an unwritten rule that one holiday would play out completely before another was allowed to be spoken of.
Now? Nobody cares. Whatever you can peddle, whenever you can peddle it, is the mantra. It matters not a whit how many people’s memories are trampled, nor how irreligious your displays and advertisements. The only thing that counts is that you get into the black. Restraint and taste are passé. The more outrageous the spectacle you make, the better for your bottom line.
Make no mistake about it: I’m a capitalist. I believe in a system wherein the market regulates itself. I’m all for everybody making as much money as they can, as fast as they can, in whatever way they can, so long as nobody is physically hurt in the process. I’m not looking to enact laws against early Christmas advertising, nor am I in favor of jail terms for such nebulous concepts as greed. What I am in favor of is standing up and being counted. If you decry this incursion upon our holiday ground, I hope you'll join me in raising a slight ruckus. My hope is that we'll make enough noise to affect the situation. If we can’t, then I suppose we deserve this despicable state of affairs.
I’m going to give it a try. I hope you'll help.
If you believe, as I do, that Thanksgiving should play out before Christmas; that Christmas carols should not be heard on the radio before at least Thanksgiving evening; that advertisers who dare to encroach upon Thanksgiving with their hideous advertisements should be told in no uncertain terms that you will not shop at their establishments; that malls who put Santa Claus on display before Veterans Day should be made ashamed of themselves; then please consider doing what I'm going to ask of you.
Should you be as incensed as I am concerning Christmas schlock, please post a "Thanksgiving Comes First" entry on your blog. Write from the heart. Everybody who visits your blog will know how you feel. Perhaps they'll also write about it, and so will their friends, and so on. I hope that, if enough of us do this, we might make some small impact.
Please title your post "Thanksgiving Comes First". If we all do that, it will make a bigger impact. If you wish to reference this post, or other posts with a similar title, please do so. It isn't mandatory. I'm not looking to drive people to my blog; I'm just trying to make a difference concerning something that truly rankles me.
If you wish to use the snazzy graphic at the top of this page, either on your blog entry or as a semi-permanent graphic on your sidebar, I'd appreciate it. Having a visual symbol that folks might see repeatedly would be a big help. Here is a smaller version of it, in case you'd like something a bit less obtrusive.
Following are my most personal reasons for wishing to see something positive occur.
I'm a Christian, so I have more than an annoyance factor at work here. I think that cheapening the holiday, by expanding it beyond reasonable bounds, does a world of disservice to my religion. It gives people a false view of it, by making it a greed-fest. However, if you aren’t a Christian, your take on matters is still important; maybe even more so than mine. If you're Jewish, for instance, it might make you mad to see some of your own festive holy days being given short shrift because of this overkill. If you're an atheist? I imagine it doesn't make you happy to be bombarded by this stuff. Whatever your reasons, please consider telling the world that you've had enough.
(I'm not encouraging obscenity, but I won't discourage it, either. Make it funny, or use it to emphasize a point, but I’d prefer that you don’t be gratuitous just for shock value. Obscenity always works better when it is an organic part of the whole. Be creative.)
(Last year, since I started this so late, there appeared here a list of offenders; merchants who were especially egregious in their attempts to separate us from our money via schlock. Since we are early enough to have avoided it thus far, I've dropped that. I'm sure we'll see more than enough as the days pass and we get closer to Thanksgiving. I'll likely report a few as time goes on. I'd like to hear about those you find, too. I'll boycott yours, if you'll boycott mine.)
(Here's my latest idea: I think a good value, given to merchants who forgo early advertising, would be a nice and proper thing to offer. For instance, Nordstrom's was a retailer that specifically advertised, last year, that they would NOT be filling the aisles with Christmas merchandise until after Thanksgiving. God bless them! We should, at the least, patronize folks like that.
Better yet, I would like to offer the combined readership of ALL OF OUR BLOGS as a potential source for retailers who agree not to give the short end of it to Thanksgiving. If we could give FREE ADVERTISING ON OUR BLOGS to those who solemnly swear to hold in abeyance the tinsel and trees and carols and other such stuff, until after Thanksgiving, that might carry some weight. Just a thought. I've always considered it nicer to offer incentives than to promise punishments.)
So, to reiterate:
If you believe as I do, that Thanksgiving Comes First, then please let your readers know where you stand.
If you post a "Thanksgiving Comes First" entry to your blog, please let me know by leaving a comment here. On Friday of next week, I'll write about this again. If we can get this thing rolling, it will be a joyous post detailing all of the successes and pointing folks to all of the other blogs, including yours, that have decided to fight the madness. If it turns out to be a dismal failure, I'll write about that, instead.
Thanks for listening. I look forward to seeing what you do.
P.S. I would suggest, if you are unable to blog about it, that you send letters to the editor of your local newspapers, to other media outlets, as well as letters to the offending merchants. As a matter of fact, even if you DO blog about it, this extra step will go a long way. I had a couple of letters published last year. I'm betting you could have similar success.