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.



Jill said...

I agree- I was in Kmart last week and they have the Christmas trees out already. It was September for gosh sakes! And the radio said this morning Walmart was starting their Christmas toy sale today. Crazy!

Suldog said...

Wow. I guess I'm not too early after all. Thanks, Jill.

Sarah said...

very well put. i actually wrote a post on this very subject last year. i used to love Christmas, but the commercialism has really spoiled it for me.

(i'll let you know when i've written something for my blog.)

Shammickite said...

In actual fact, CANADIAN THANKSGIVING comes first, and Amurrican Thanksgiving comes second!

Kuanyin Moi said...

As I recall, I participated in this last year. Since I'm just back from a long vacation, the holidays seem sooo far away indeed, and even Halloween is too close for comfort!

Angie Ledbetter said...

An idea whose time has come! There's so much about the world today that is grotesque. What will you take on next? Kudos.

nick said...

as ridiculous as it is that some stores have their christmas displays up in the 3rd week of september, there are a lot of families that need to start doing their shopping early so that they can afford to get what they need (want)...but don't get me wrong, i still think it's craziness

Hilary said...

Truthfully, the main reason I'm finding the early advertising irritating, is that is signals the onset of winter.

I'm neither Christian nor Amurikan and we don't tend to see the Christmas ads here until after our (second Monday of) October Thanksgiving holiday.. and usually they appear just around the first of November.

The items that make their appearance in the stores while it still feel summerish are the Hallmark ornaments. I notice those every year and feel not much more than a minor resentment. Sorry, Sully. :/

CrazyCath said...

Well as you anticipated, I don't even "get" Thanksgiving. If you are (one is) Christian, shouldn't you (we) give thanks daily? Why one day of the year?
And if you're not Christian, what then?
I am Christian but I do not celebrated Christmas so I guess I am just used to all the hype and learn to ignore it.

Heartfelt post though Sully.

Anonymous said...

"Truthfully, the main reason I'm finding the early advertising irritating, is that is signals the onset of winter."

Yeah, summer Christmas is a *Southern Hemisphere* thing! I get a kick out of summery Christmas cards and Christmas gifts from my relatives abroad (and giving them wintery ones!) but it's just not the same when the Christmas season starts almost in summer here (and almost in winter there)...

fwright said...

I just found this blog linked off and couldn't agree more. Even though we are certainly NOT christians, my partner and I are deeply traditional and miss the true feeling of the Christmas season from when we were boys. Some years ago we decided to remove ourselves from the 'process' - turn off the television in October, begin gathering supplies, hand-making all of our gifts and ornaments. We invite friends and family to our house throughout the season for hot spiced wine and stollen, tree decorating parties, and cookie making for the kids. This year we are spending most of December in Bavaria - where they REALLY do Christmas right, returning back to US just before Christmas Day to spend with his sister and her kids. No stress, no shopping, lots of family time.

Anali said...

I'm so glad that you're doing this again. I'll be doing a post!

Melinda said...

YAY! I love and adore your "Thanksgiving Comes First" campaign! (especially the story - it's turning into a blogging fall classic.)

This year I've decided to take my camera on a field trip the day after Halloween to see what the stores look like. Typically in Canada you see stacks of masks and other Halloween paraphernalia being placed back in boxes as employees stack shelves with tinsel and plastic Santas. The Dollar Stores are the worst culprits, so they'll be my first stop.

I love Christmas, but certainly don't need the stores to remind me that it's only 85 days away.

wendyloohoo said...

Nick - I understand the need for spreading out the cost of Christmas, but you can do that without all the advertising. Plus I think some bank could make a nice deal by starting up Christmas clubs. I had one of those as a kid and I looked forward to my check that came right around Thanksgiving so I could start shopping.

I absolutely adore Christmas and I will play the heck out of my Christmas music from Thanksgiving through the Epiphany and then I am done for the year. More than that and I get overwhelmed and no longer appreciate it. That being said it is not that I don't buy Christmas gifts early because I do, if I see something is on sale I buy it but I don't go specifically looking for it and don't need the "Christmas" set up to be shop. I am heading to the mall (shudder) this weekend and I think it will be my last trip until post Christmas. It is Amazon for me.

Moannie said...

I like to think I have Christian values even though I have no affiliation to 'organised religion', and for me, the worst aspect of what should be a celebration of the birth of Christ, is the deluge of commersialism that engulfs us. and it is starting now 02October. Already there are shelves in the supermarket here that are stocked with red and green and tinsel. It is TOOOOOOOO early, and made even more obscene following the devastation that the Market Fall which will be causing havoc in the lives of so many ordinary people.

We don't have Thanksgiving, but Halloween is taking on more and more of a significance over here and masks and orange plastic lanterns are jostling with the christmas items.

God luck with your crusade.

Jenn said...

Outstanding idea, I may do this soon. As a former Retail Whore I know all too well the sadness that comes with Labor Day weekend. Not only is it sad to see these items put out while it may still be 90 degrees but all of a sudden it is OK to request that people who make minimum wage work 80 hour weeks beginning at 6AM. For two years during the holiday season I literally lived on coffee & nicotine.

Now that I have gone through retail recovery I do not enter a mall after Halloween because it is too scary. Stay on the lookout for bathing suits in February too!

Sandra Ree said...

The Fair comes first! Before Halloween, before Thanksgiving, before Christmas. It's a Southern tradition! :)

Nana Net said...

Hi, I happened to have stumbled on to you blog and really do like it a lot! Like you I too wish that we could just enjoy our Holidays "One At A Time" before the stores start putting up items for the next one! As a child I remember not seeing any kind of Christmas Decor out and about untill the 'Big Day After Thanksgivng Sale!" But unfortunately those days have been long gone!

As to my helping spread the word about "Thanksgiving Comes First" I surely will be most happy to do. Just let me warn you though....I did cave in and buy a couple of items early the other day. ;0( To which I did blog about. And yes there is Christmas Decor already out and about in the stores here in N. C. where I live.

I would like to add you to my list of "Checkin' This & That Out" if you do not mind. Thanks so much. I look forward to reading so much more of your posts.

Nana Net

Buck said...

Great idea and I'll be on board. This subject came up at my dentist's office last week, and there was unanimous agreement that the Christmas "shopping season" begins way too early. Kinda amazing, since I live in something much like a Bible-Belt, West. OTOH, maybe not... coz fundamentalist Christians probably take more offense at the cheapening of the holiday than most folks. I'm on shaky ground by even speculating in this space.

Suldog said...

Thanks, Folks! Remember to put the icon up somewhere, or ask your readers/friends to help out, or otherwise pass this along!

I truly appreciate the kind words, encouragement, and heartfelt best wishes.

Lisa said...

Hey! Thanks for tappin' me again for this. I'll keep my eyes peeled. If memory serves, Starbucks was a particular offender, and then 103 started in with the Christmas music on VETERANS DAY. Oy.

Judi FitzPatrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

Anonymous said...

I hadn't noticed any signs until I read your blog yesterday. I went to Borders and they had a display of Christmas magazines. I rationalized it by thinking, "Well, folks need to get started on making things so it doesn't really count."

Then I went a little farther and saw all the boxed Christmas cards. Argh.

When I got home, there was junk mail from the American Lung Association with Christmas tags, stickers, and an ornament.

All on Oct. 1st.


Dusty Lens said...

Sadly this must yet become a blog post. When will our retailers learn?

I thought I had contacted you concerning this in August. I am dismayed to report that on August 24th Mrs. DL and I witnessed our first Christmas display at Costco.

August 24th!!!

Keep up the good work!

Joanie said...

A couple stores here had Christmas items out right after the July 4th. I was appalled.

The rule in our house regarding Christmas and Christmas carols: Nothing until December 1.

Thanks for sharing this post over at Pam's!

Da Goddess

Elaine said...

Yeah, our town is getting all ready for christmas. It's ridiculous. Unfortunately I can't agree that Thanksgiving comes first, so I'll settle with Bonfire Night!

Janet said...

I'll post one - (I already commented ad nauseum on your subsequent post, so I won't repeat it all here - you're welcome.)

Thimbelle said...

Mine's done:

I'm on board!

Thim :)

Kris, in New England said...

Came here thru Buck - I posted about it here.

As I mention in my post - I saw Christmas Trees on sale at Home Depot yesterday, and heard Christmas Carols at Brookstone on Thursday.


GoVegan2008 said...

I was in CVS last Friday night, looking for some of those mallowcreme pumpkin candies that they have out at Halloween time. I went up and down the seasonal aisles several times because I just couldn't find them. However, I was able to find several displays of Christmas wrapping paper, bows, and assorted Christmas decorations. I more than a little upset, to put it mildly.

Heidi said...

I have a post up HERE to join the crusade! (Glad you got a hold of me! I am happy to be on board!)

Judi FitzPatrick said...

I have removed my original comment and am issuing this revised one.

As much as I agree with you, I am guilty myself and don't see any way around it now.

I sell my photos online and have already got some of my Christmas cards available. I am also selling in at least one craft fair that is before Thanksgiving. If I don't offer my Christmas items now, before Halloween, before Thanksgiving, there may not be a market left.
The competition is too steep for me as a teeny-tiny business not to do everything I can to make a sale. I realize it is because of the "big guys" that this is the case, and I applaud your crusade. I hope it works so that we little "guys" can relax about it, too.

Peace, Judi

Laurie said...

I posted here

philmon said...

Not to mention Haloween. I mean, it's the last half of September when a lot of stores are switching merchandise.

philmon said...

As for folks like CrazyCathy's question about "why not be thankful every day of the year" ... I have a thought or two.

We have some family who are Jehova's Witness. They don't celebrate any holidays at all, and they use similar reasoning. It makes sense. But it's not human nature.

Why is gold a precious metal?

Ponder that for a second, but there is very little special about gold as far as physical properties are concerned that can't be replicated by more a more abundant material.

Gold is "precious" because it's rare. Things are more "special" when they're rare.

If you're just always thankful all the time, it becomes essentially the same as taking things for granted as it, too, blends into the background noise of life.

There's nothing about Thanksgiving that says you can't give thanks all of the time -- but this is a day that our cultural ancestors set aside to say, "Wow. We've got a lot to be thankful for. Let's take a whole day out of our schedule, get together with people who are important to us, and celebrate what we have."

It grew out of harvest festivals that actually predate Christianity, so it's not really a Christian thing per-se - but the idea is certainly compatible with Christianity and was easily adopted by Christians.

I, frankly, dig it. A lot. It connects me to a past where we were much closer to our food sources and it didn't come out of a cardboard box or a can we picked up at a grocery store. Yeah, I don't go out and kill my own turkey (though I have) but I do tend to make as much as possible from scratch that day and I really enjoy it. It is a close second to Christmas to me. They might even be essentially tied. The "Christmas Season" just lasts longer so there's more opportunity for visits and parties. It's long enough. So I like to give Thanksgiving its full due.

Karen said...

Hi, I got here from Creeping Towards Normal. I have very strong feelings about the commercialization of Christmas in the US. I stopped buying Christmas gifts several years ago, giving home made gifts instead. A lot of the home made things I gave were not appreciated, so I stopped giving gifts to those who don't appreciate a gift unless is is an expensive brightly wrapped thing i have bought.

I have posted and linked to you over at FabGrandma. Thanks for coming up with this campaign.

CeliacChick said...

Read about you on Fab Grandma.

Thought you might find the history of Xmas as we know it interesting. Excellent article from the History Channel:


Suldog said...

I love all of you folks. I hope you know that. Just back from vacation not too long ago, so sorry if I haven't been around to your place. I'll try to catch up!

Island Rider said...

I posted one this AM. Thanks for the reminder of what is most important.

mine said...

I agree- One of the radio stations in the St. Louis market began Christmas music on October 1st. I am sick to death of the pushing up of holidays and pushing past the days that lead up to it. I am tired of the holidays by the end of October and I am boycotting stepping in to any store other than a groceries only. When I am ready to shop for my family, I will do it on line, and have it delivered to my door. No retail chain will get any of my hard earned dollars until December 26th for an after Christmas sale.

So continue the fight, I stand behind you. Happy Thanksgiving.

Cole said...

Thanks for leading me to your post! Here is my updated rant on skipping Thanksgiving with a link to you! :)

Kathryn Magendie said...

Yes, - in fact, it was HARD putting the "supporting blogger community artisans and local mom and pop shops" on the blog - and talking about christmas shopping --eyeww - however, what we really wanted was to get people to think about doing any kind of shopping through the blogger community or local community vendors *smiling*....

I saw a christmas commercial the other day _ ARGH -- yeah...Sears I think it was....__PAH!

Kathryn Magendie said...

I put up my own THanksgiving comes first sign to go up tomorrow :)...and sorry for the three comments - geez, I'm chaotic!

Humanist said...

Don't Give Up! Please keep fighting this insanity!

Last year my partner and I were forced to flee the United States and spend the entire month of December in the Black Forest and Bavaria in Germany so that we could get a taste of genuine Christmas spirit. This year, starting first week of October, we are already seeing Christmas advertising (Kmart and Sears) and have resolved to spend the month of November in Central Europe, Prague and Krakow, to avoid being blitzkrieged by mindless commercials exhorting us to consume, consume, consume.

Our real Thanksgiving Dinner, replete with roast turkey, wild game, cranberry sauce, squash and pumpkin pies, will be held at Allegro in Prague on Thanksgiving Day. We have much to be thankful for - health, happiness, family, friends, and some material comforts. Our special day of Thanks will NOT be usurped by the christmas commercializers.