I saw my first Christmas commercial five days before Halloween this year.
Let me just go on record with this: I believe that Christmas doesn’t start until after Thanksgiving. End of story.
Apparently it is vital that the holiday shopping message gets out as soon as possible. You know, to give us time to remember that Christmas is coming. ‘Cause we are very forgetful. What’s that holiday at the end of the year? You know, the one before New Years? Never mind that my youngest has an app that tells her exactly how long until Christmas to the hour and second; an app that has been in use since February.
It wasn’t always this way. In the olden days, back when we used to watch commercials on wood-burning televisions, Santa never made an appearance until the last of the leftover Thanksgiving turkey had been recycled into some sort of mysterious breakfast hash.
But as time went by, Madison Avenue convinced Main Street to advertise earlier and earlier. Oh, I understand why. They are scared to death because now we DVR everything, binge watch our favorite shows on our phones, and scan right past the commercials, so only the heartiest of ads can sneak through.
When I was growing up, my Mom explained to my brother and me that Santa didn’t believe in giving gifts that we might have seen advertised on TV. Now this was long before your Facebook post could be turned into an ad without your permission. This was pre-internet. You know, when talking dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and we powered our cars with our feet.
No matter how much we wanted the Hot Wheels Automated City With Sig-Alert Action Track, or the Slimy Icky Growing Goop with Actual Live Bugs, or even the G.I. Joe Mechanized Tank With Real Exploding Artillery Shells . . . Santa never brought them. Even if we were good.
So Christmas morning was always an adventure, because we never quite knew what would be under the tree. Run, run, run . . . giggle, giggle, giggle. “Hey Ward, what did you get?” “I got a complete set of Make Your Own Lunch Brown Paper Bags, how about you?” “I got an Imagination Block.” “It looks like a piece of wood.” “Yeah, well . . . does not!” “Does too!”
The thing is, no matter how early the commercials start, we will still show our basic humanity by waiting until the last minute to shop, and scorning those irritants who gleefully announce that they finished their Christmas shopping on the fifth of July.
Families all over the country will still enter into fierce negotiations over who is going where and bringing what for the Holidays. “Why do we have to have Christmas in Los Angeles? Why can’t we have it up here?” “Because all of us live in L.A., and you’re the only one in Fresno!” “I’m not coming if Jack is still dating that crack ho!” “You’re coming all right, ’cause you’re bringing the rolls, damnit!”
The stress level will ratchet up enough to make me buy eggnog and bourbon in bulk.
But at some point, late in December, long after all the presents have been opened, when all the people banished from my kitchen on Christmas night have been allowed to return, when the pies have been properly “evened out,” and everyone is sitting around drinking wine, laughing and enjoying each other’s stories . . . well, that’s when I truly appreciate the holidays, no matter when the season starts.
Just like in the olden days.