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Season’s Greetings!

Am I paranoid? Or are the retailers conspiring every year to make me feel that I’m further and further behind and that only spending more money faster will save me from blowing my family’s chances for happy holidays altogether?

Two weeks ago I was wandering through the grocery store in search of earwax remover when I came across a section of Christmas cards. As I’m writing this that would have been approximately September 19th.

Am I paranoid? Or are the retailers conspiring every year to make me feel that I’m further and further behind and that only spending more money faster will save me from blowing my family’s chances for happy holidays altogether?

Santa with a Jack-o-Lantern

I might in fact be paranoid but I don’t think I’m wrong. Because September, by retailer’s standards, is not even early any more. By retailer’s standards, even August is not considered early.

The fact is, both Sears and K-Mart, according to, featured “Christmas Lane” promotions in their stores and on their websites back in July. July! Toys R Us stores also had a promotion in July where kids could make holiday cards in the store while their parents shopped for toys to put under the tree. It makes you wonder, is there NO time that would be considered too early to start pushing Christmas spending and other preparations upon us? Will it eventually be a year-round thing?

I understand why they’re doing this – the retailers are trying to make up for lagging consumer spending by getting people to do their shopping earlier. I wish the retailers well in this difficult economic climate but I have to ask: Will this strategy work? Does doing my shopping earlier mean I’ll spend more than I would have spent if I waited until the last minute?

In my case, no. The more organized I am, the more thoughtful I tend to be about my purchases and the less I spend, not more. But either way, I’m not worried about being goaded into spending too much money or buying something I don’t really want. I’m still (I think) in control of my wallet. So that’s not what bothers me about the way the winter holiday promotions have increasingly encroached upon fall and now, summer.

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What bothers me is that the retailers are rushing me and my children through our lives. I would like, if someone would just give me a moment, to enjoy Halloween which is still nearly a month away. Halloween is such a fun holiday, especially for kids, so I’d really rather not just skip over it in a rush to get to Christmas. And then after I’ve put away the skeleton and fake cobwebs we like to hang on our driveway gate every year, I’d like to put some thought into organizing Thanksgiving dinner with my grandparents with as many family members as possible, since we never know, given Grammy and Granddad’s ages of 95 and 97, if it might their last.

And I’d like to savor the season of fall in general, the sudden gold of our elm trees, the early morning frost on our antique windows, the lines of geese gathering to go south. Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa are winter holidays, not fall holidays, and definitely not summer holidays. So how about we give each season and each holiday its own space? Otherwise I don’t see how any of them can ever be considered special.

One more thing. I’d just as soon my two kids didn’t start getting wound up about Christmas at the end of August. The focus on what kids want for Christmas is something that by-and-large needs to be managed, not magnified, in my view.

But it’s just occurred to me that there is some good news here, at least for me. I’ve now gotten my annual Christmas column out of the way, and it’s only the first of October!

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