Friday, November 4, 2011

The Holiday Frenzy Season is Here

So Halloween is over and November has begun. And so has the Christmas music, and the holiday television and radio ads. It’s like they’re telling us, Hurry up, people, you’re running behind. GO. SHOPPING. NOW!


I didn’t want Halloween to end because I knew the holiday frenzy would begin immediately thereafter. I’m surprised I’m not feeling pressured to put up our Christmas tree already.

Over the years I have been known to shop for Christmas gifts throughout the year so as not to become immersed too heavily in the holiday shopping madness, but this year has been different. I haven’t purchased that first gift, card, bow or stamp, although my little mind has been churning through ideas and possibilities. Of course, until I start an actual list, the “process” cannot truly begin.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy the whole holiday season. I do. It’s just that there’s way too much hype about it.

And, heck, the poor Thanksgiving holiday gets lost in the process.

I suppose turkeys everywhere would rejoice at this news, except that somehow, some way turkeys still manages to get purchased at grocery stores everywhere by the fourth Thursday in November. Sure, we have to push aside the Christmas hams to search for the perfect turkey to feed 18 people and we are forced to listen to that incessant canned Christmas music piped through the loudspeakers while having an internal debate over serving yams or mashed potatoes or both this year. It’s distracting, I tell you.

Okay, that whole paragraph is a lie. For me, anyway. 1) I’ve never prepared a turkey for 18 people. I’ve never even prepared a turkey for two people. I’m not crazy about turkey. 2) We don’t have ham for Christmas. 3) Yams, while healthier than your standard mashed potato, are orange. And I don’t eat orange food. And, yes, that pretty much involves all orange food, including pumpkin pie. And orange Skittles. You have to throw away orange Skittles.

Uh oh. After careful review of the multitudes of orange-colored foods out there, it occurs to me that I DO eat carrots. Oops. Lied again.

The only thing about that paragraph that was true (for me, anyway), is that we DO have to listen to canned Christmas music over the loudspeakers at the grocery store before we’ve even experienced the happy Thanksgiving holiday.

Of course, what sort of music could they possibly play to celebrate Thanksgiving? I think we only have “Over the River and Through The Woods.” And wouldn’t that get old really fast? Horse-driven sleighs are, after all, a rather outdated mode of transportation these days. And nobody has written any new songs about heading to grandma’s in a Kia, for example. Even after all these years. Go figure, huh? Probably there isn’t a big market for hit Thanksgiving songs.

The other reason the Thanksgiving holiday gets the short shrift is that shoppers everywhere have to gear up for the craziness that is Black Friday. The cooks in the family have to arise at the crack of dawn on Thanksgiving Day to prepare the meal that their family is required to eat at 10AM. And the shoppers in the family avoid turkey entirely at Thanksgiving dinner because it contains L-tryptophan and they don’t want to be sleepy and miss their 9PM alarm. (And by “shoppers,” of course, I mean “women.” Men spend Thanksgiving watching football and drinking beer and eating leftover turkey sandwiches. They think the shoppers in the family are crazy to go shopping at 1 o’clock in the morning.

I blame the retail industry. Over the years, stores have competed for our holiday dollars by opening earlier and earlier the day after Thanksgiving. It started out that stores opened at 6AM on Black Friday. Then other stores started opening at 5AM. And it continued on until now you see store managers, with napkins still tucked under their chins holding plates filled with turkey and stuffing and marshmallow-y yams in one hand while they unlock the store doors with the other.

Shoppers, meanwhile, have been congregating outside the store in the cold for hours. Eventually they start pushing and shoving each other to get the prime entry positions. You’d think the store was giving away pure gold bars or something.

The closer time gets to store opening, shoppers assume the typical bull stampede stance. This includes snorting to intimidate the other shoppers and stamping and pawing the ground in anticipation so as soon as the doors open, they can rush inside to buy Tattoo Barbie or the newest Wii game before the other shoppers can get their grubby hands on the goods.

And you know what happens as soon as the doors open, don’t you? The slower-moving store managers who can’t step aside fast enough don’t make it. All that is left after the crowd has surged inside is a little smear of yam on the floor. And the napkin. That’s it.

It’s very risky to be a store manager in charge of the keys to the door on Black Friday. I hope they get combat pay.

Thus far, I have avoided joining in on the Black Friday madness. I feel sorry for the dear departed store managers for one thing. And, for another, there is no toy, sweater or iPod worth getting up for in the middle of the night. Not even if they gave it to me free.

So I say, RELAX, PEOPLE! You’ve got plenty of time. But probably you should think about putting up your tree this weekend. Unless, of course, you never took it down after last Christmas. Then you’re good. Instead, you can spend the weekend picking the orange Skittles out of your kids’ stash of Halloween candy. And maybe think about writing a Thanksgiving song with the word "Kia" in it.

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