Nov. 1 signified two things: the arrival of Oregon rains and the commencement of the unofficial commercial Christmas season. I walked into Starbucks not long after Halloween, and what should I find? Christmas drinks! That's right, there was 'Peppermint Mocha Twist' on the menu board shining next to the lesser, non-holiday-affiliated beverages.
After a brief moment of elation (because everyone knows the Christmas drinks are Starbucks' best), I was struck by a different thought: 'Wait. Isn't it early November?'
It is, in fact, early November when holiday decor makes its debut. As soon as the Halloween pumpkins are put away, the Christmas lights and reindeer re-surface from dusty attics. The poor Thanksgiving pilgrims do not stand a chance.
The reason behind the premature start of the season is obvious: corporations are clued into the holiday hype. The longer their once-a-year products are on the shelf, the more consumers purchase them, and the more revenue is made for the company. They take advantage of the festival, gift-giving season to sell, sell, sell. And you don't have to be a marketing genius to see that the longer people are buying, buying, buying the better. The 'Christmas bonus' is a common phenomenon, after all.
But all of this over-commercialism is damaging to the essential spirit of the actual holiday. When the holidays are a constant, predominantly material feature in our lives for a consistent two months, we begin to forget their importance. Don't get me wrong - I am all for 'Deck the Halls' jingles and inflatable Santas. Just... not in November. You can only see the Tiny Tim ad so many times before it stops being cute and starts becoming monotonous.
What's the point? What's wrong with having an extended holiday season? We don't have to buy into the commercialism, right?
Well, the thing is, we common people, we the 'consumers,' are not dumb. We watch the cheery oh-my-gosh-you-only-have-one-and-a-half-months-until-Christmas commercials that suggest we come get our gifts now at the big sale - and we know that it's a marketing trick. We know it's not about the holiday spirit or Christmas joy but rather about making a profit.
And it's this knowledge that is the real problem with the over-commercialism of the holidays because it hurts the innocence of the season. It diminishes the sincerity behind Christmas carols and holiday lights. Suddenly, Christmas carols are an extra $.99 payable to iTunes, and the multi-colored roof lights are just more profit for the local hardware store.
This knowledge - that the focus of the season is monetary - leads people to feel duped. And it can lead to cynical remarks and snide comments, which detract from the holidays entirely.
In the interest of preserving this atmosphere, the unconditional kindness and, yes, the little bit of naiveté that makes the holidays so momentous; the commercialism needs to be reduced. Not completely eradicated - Santa ads are fine when Christmas is legitimately close. And we all love the holiday music radio stations.
But if we could cut back on the constant advertising and let November be the dreary month it should be, it would restore the honesty of the holidays. Let's give Thanksgiving a fighting chance before we jump right into the 'big show,' the double whammy of Hanukah and Christmas.
Maybe Christmas and Hanukah should be more like Thanksgiving: admitted holidays, but quiet affairs, meant for the gathering and enjoyment of friends and family. Maybe we don't need to start wrapping presents Nov. 1.
I don't want my Santa before my turkey, and I say that as an avid holiday lover.