It’s the day after Halloween. You’ve recovered from your candy binge, slowly slid back into your normal routine, and decided to watch some TV. The continent is in the heart of autumn, with turkeys and awkward family reunions rapidly approaching. Naturally, it would be time for the media to acknowledge that Thanksgiving is approaching… right?
Nope. On Nov. 1, TV viewers were treated to the first ads of the Holiday season. T-Mobile, Walmart, car dealerships, Justin Bieber – just about every big business in America has decided that after pumpkins comes mistletoe, that after ghosts and zombies come reindeer and sleigh bells.
Corporate America is, it seems, ignoring the upcoming harvest tradition to tell the public that the Winter Holiday of your choice is coming, so we have to buy, buy, buy! Forget the turkey! There are toys to fight over, people!
Naturally, this immediate shift from Halloween to Christmas confused me as I watched “Dancing with the Stars” with my parents the night of Nov. 1. After seeing the same T-Mobile commercial three times, I asked my father, “Why is Christmas beginning so early?”
The answer was simple, he told me. Most businesses make most of their money for the year during the Christmas season. So, when big business is saying, “Buy your Christmas gifts now!” they are really saying, “Make sure we have good fourth quarter profits!”
I see right through your game, American capitalism. You’re taking the beautiful tradition of Christmas/Winter Solstice Gift-Giving Holiday and using it to milk us dry of our spending money before December has even started. You’re not spreading Christmas cheer – you’re fattening Christmas bonuses. I’m not buying it (so to speak).
We all learn as children that the “true meaning of Christmas” is not gifts. The answers vary depending on your system of beliefs, of course. To some, it’s the birth of a savior. To me, it’s the warm and fuzzy feeling of generosity and togetherness. But to corporate America, it’s the warm and fuzzy feeling of a stuffed wallet.
That’s not what Christmas is all about, and consumers know that. Or at least, they should.
I’m smarter than big business. I’m not preparing for Christmas yet because I don’t need to prepare for Christmas yet. I’m not preparing for Christmas yet because I actually like the transition that Thanksgiving provides. Most importantly, I’m not preparing for Christmas yet because it makes Christmastime feel more special.
It’s the reason there are so many stories about why Christmas can’t be every day: it doesn’t feel special anymore. The same goes for the feeling that Christmas is coming. If we start focusing on it too early, the actual holiday will feel commonplace. The warm and fuzzy feeling feels less extraordinary. Yes, the anticipation is just as much a part of Christmas as the holiday is. However, beginning the anticipation too early almost spoils the fun. Corporate America doesn’t understand that.
Transition is important. Anticipation is important. And yes, to retail employees across the nation, a solid Christmas bonus is important. But there is a time and a place for Christmas hype and we’re not there quite yet. I don’t need to buy my gifts now. I don’t need to hear “White Christmas” while the leaves are still red. Let Thanksgiving take its course – then we can walk in that Winter Wonderland.
Call me a Grinch, but my position remains. I love the holiday season as much as the next guy, but I implore you, corporate America: put away the Christmas lights and snowmen until our turkey is fully digested.