On Friday, October 30, I lurched into a Rite Aide looking for some orange streamers and fake spider webs to decorate my apartment appropriately for some Vincent Price viewing. What I found was appalling but not, I fear, surprising—the shelves short on spooky accessories, but already well-stocked with GODDAMN SANTAS.
It was a sign that I must once more issue my annual call to arms against the aggressive, encroaching forces of Christmas. We must not rest until Christmas has been driven back to its recognized boundaries, which is to say, from the day after Thanksgiving until New Year’s Eve and no further. We have no beef with a Christmas that stays within its lane, but this advance cannot be permitted.
Call me alarmist! Suggest that my local Rite Aid simply ran low on costumes! But only a fool ignores what is happening here. All across America, retailers practically shoved trick-or-treaters out of their way to get those pre-Black Friday sales started. Amazon has already launched a store dedicated purely to Black Friday deals. Yesterday, the first Monday after Halloween, the local news affiliate in Knoxville, Tennessee, dedicated precious moments of their coverage to the early debut of seasonal decorations. Nor is this some isolated problem. Be careful or you might find the season changing around you, the forces of Christmas surging down the store aisles to knock you off your feet.
The media frenzy is already beginning. The AP just did a feel-good story about how farmers can eek out some extra holiday cash by renting their animals for Nativity scenes. Buzzfeed has already run with “17 Pictures You’ll Only Appreciate If You’re Ready for Christmas,” complete with the ominous tagline, “Only seven Mondays left until Christmas.” Meanwhile, Fox News is already cranking up its overwrought defense of Christmas, chronicling the alleged attacks against this most Christian holiday, which has definitely not transformed into a secular party about shopping, no sir.
The good news is, the word is spreading. Rather than participate in the wearing-down of Thanksgiving, retailer REI has chosen to give its employees Black Friday as a paid day off. (Black Friday being, of course, the outpost from which Christmas launched its attack on Thanksgiving.) A reporter at the Chicago Tribune has similarly called for a stand against Christmas.
And this year we may have received assistance from an unlikely ally. Back in mid-October, Emily Hauser posted a rousing defense of pumpkin spice obsession at The Week. A central element of her argument was that all those disgusting tie-in products are helping fend off the relentless advance of The Holidaze. Nor was she wrong—this year marketers that might otherwise have been trying to load us down with peppermint chocolate were busy losing their heads over faux-gourd chemical flavoring.
But pumpkin spice is a trend that will inevitably play out, and so we must continue the good fight, so that Christmas does not see weakness within our ranks and rush forward next year or the year after, advancing into early October or even September, leaving the back-to-school notebooks and freshly sharpened pencils stained red and green and reeking of cinnamon. Shall Labor Day be replaced with X-Shopping-Days-Until-Christmas-Day?
It is not to be borne. Refer to the guidelines laid down last year. Don’t buy a single square of peppermint bark, don’t take advantage of early sales on wrapping paper, don’t order an ugly Christmas sweater even though it might very well sell out before Thanksgiving. Stay strong.
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