Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Retailers and radio stations trying to foist Christmas on us early... again

It's the most wonderful time of the year.
With the kids jingle belling,
and everyone telling you,
"Be of good cheer,"
It's the most wonderful time of the year.

— Lyrics from It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, written by Eddie Pola and George Wyle, and first performed by Andy Williams in 1963

As the Andy Williams song proclaims, the winter holiday season is supposed to be "the most wonderful time of the year" ... a time when everybody is in a festive, joyous mood, a time for community, a time for coming together with family and friends, a time for eating, drinking, singing, and dancing.

Retailers and radio stations have, for several years, tried their hardest to make "the most wonderful time of the year" start earlier, and earlier, and earlier.

Department stores put up Christmas displays, even before Halloween is over. Car dealers and clothing chains air Christmas-themed spots in mid-November. Shopping malls hang up Christmas decorations and even allow parents to sign their children up for a visit with Santa Claus.

And radio stations start playing Christmas music nonstop.

Annoyingly, both KRWM (Warm 106.9) and KJR (95.7) FM have begun playing nothing but Christmas tunes, more than a week before Thanksgiving and two weeks before the last day in November, which has caused me to reconfigure my channel presets. I just don't feel like hearing the likes of "Feliz Navidad" and "Winter Wonderland" coming out of my speakers before we've even observed Thanksgiving, which kicks off the final phase of autumn.

It's become an annual ritual for me to react to the commercial onset of Christmas in mid-autumn by watching Lewis Black's Comedy Central Presents special from 2002, in which he lampoons the growing length of the shopping season. (You can watch it here if you can manage to fool CTV's web server into thinking you live in Canada).

Lewis begins his appearance with a bit about the absurdity of the Super Bowl halftime show and commercials, and then tackles Christmas:
You know, I was surprised at this year at the Super Bowl that Santa didn't land, and that we just started Christmas again.

I will tell you that you Christians have created a holiday that has become a beast that cannot be fed. Every year, Christmas gets longer and longer and longer, and you don't care, do you? You just take more and more of the calendar for yourself. It's unbelievable. How long does it take you people to shop!? It's beyond belief. It's insane!

When I was a kid, Halloween was Halloween... and Santa wasn't poking his ass into it!
He continues:
Thanksgiving used to be Thanksgiving, and it was its own holiday... not Christmas, Part One. When I was a kid, you ate, and you drank, and you passed out, and nobody woke you up and said, "Let's go shopping!"
Amen. Leave it to Lewis Black to put absurdity in its place.

One final thought: Given how strongly we're urged to shop during the month of December, it's worth thinking about where all the Stuff we buy comes from, and what happens to it after we decide we no longer want it. If you've never seen Annie Leonard's The Story of Stuff, you absolutely have to watch it; it's an eye-opener. If you have seen The Story of Stuff, then you should watch the just-released Story of Electronics, which is particularly timely, since retailers are going to be aggressively pitching all of us the latest gadgets this holiday season.


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