Monday, September 28, 2009
As in past years, I was going to post this sometime in October. I can't wait, though, as retailers are putting Christmas merchandise on the shelves NOW. In September.
It was bad enough when they encroached on Thanksgiving. Now it's happening before October.
I'm just this side of going postal.
I am seriously giving thought to destroying the next retail Christmas display I see. I mean it. Words just aren't doing it for me now.
If, in the next few weeks, you read a news account concerning a man from the Boston area being arrested for kicking over some shelves in a store...
If you'd consider helping in the ways outlined within the body of what follows, I'll be extremely thankful. You may be saving not only Christmas as it should be, but also my sanity.
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. If you're old enough, you'll recall that Christmas carols 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 a spectacular level, because it happened at an appropriate time. No retailer (or city or homeowner) dared 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 - or, God help us, Halloween - 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.
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 may be 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.)
(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, offering 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 would be nice. 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.
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.
(Image courtesy of Thanksgiving Corner)
In order for this thing to have any real effect, it has to keep spreading via others. While I truly LOVE anything you do in response, we have to ask others to do the same. If we don’t, then we’re just ranting. While that might certainly be fun, it doesn’t accomplish nearly as much as making our feelings known and also getting others to make their feelings known.
I firmly believe – and I’m sure you do, too – that the great majority of people are sick to death of the way Christmas has been commercialized. I’d be willing to bet that whenever you talk to anyone about this stuff, they almost always say, "Yeah, me, too!"
Don’t you think we hold the majority opinion on this? If there were some way we could vote on it, wouldn’t we win easily? I sure think so. I think that for every person who loves hearing Christmas music at the beginning of November, there are ten of us who want to blow up the radio it’s playing on. I know that’s the way I feel. And I really, truly LOVE Christmas music. I honestly do. I own some 35 or 40 CDs full of Christmas music. But it has its place, and November (or, God help us, October) really isn’t it.
Are we tilting at windmills? I’d like to think we're not. The response in previous years, from all of you kind folks, gives me hope that it’s a winnable battle.
Can you imagine how sour the pusses of some corporate execs would be if they received printed-out copies of blogs that say "Thanksgiving Comes First"? What if all of us called or wrote some radio station, telling the programming director that we decided to stop listening? If we all wrote a 'letter to the editor' at our local papers, we could definitely expect some to be printed. Last year, mine was - and I’m not nearly as eloquent as some of you. Who knows how many good people might see something like that and decide that they, too, would like to reclaim the season from the merchants?
If we were to flood retailers with e-mails saying that we won’t shop at their stores – giving them the idea that it will cost them actual profits - they’ll listen. Profit and loss is what they judge by, so if we speak with our wallets and purses...
Sooner or later, if we all do one or two of these things, I honestly think we can have some effect. I’m not saying that we’ll bring the corporate world to its knees, nor would I want that. This isn’t a power trip. But, if we can get them to ramp it down a bit, that would be an accomplishment of which we could be proud.
What this is all about, truly, was brought home to me while I was watching Mister Rogers the other day.
You may already know that I consider Fred Rogers to have been an actual living saint. He really was a nice man, as I detailed in a previous post. Anyway, on one of his shows that aired recently, he was explaining the concepts of noisy and quiet. In order to illustrate the difference, he took his television audience to see a musician friend of his.
Fred had the musician, a percussionist, play his many instruments. Some were very loud, while others were soft and gentle. Afterwards, Mister Rogers looked into the camera and spoke. I have to paraphrase, but it will be close enough. He said, “In music, the silences are just as important as the loud parts.”
That’s a very profound statement. The silences are just as important as the loud parts. It’s true, isn’t it? Without the silences, it’s just noise. The silences – the pauses, the gaps, the unfilled spaces – are what give the notes their power and meaning. And when it comes to a holiday, the silences – the quiet times preceding (or even within) the holiday – are extremely important. They give the celebration its power and meaning. That’s why I care so deeply about this. We all need some silences. They’re just as important as the loud parts.
Please keep writing, as well as asking your friends to write. Send off a letter or two, and let us know what sorts of responses you receive. As promised, I’ll list (and link to) all of your blogs a week from Friday.
For now, Google the phrase "Thanksgiving Comes First" and you'll find many past postings. That simple act, in and of itself, also helps to spread the message. Getting many hits on Google, for the phrase, will bring it to the attention of some more good people.
Thank you for listening. God bless you if you help.