Ah, Christmas. That wonderful, humanitarian holiday that arrives every year on the last day of the third week of December. 'Tis the season to be jolly. A time to eat, drink, and be merrry. As the muppets sang in "A Muppet Christmas Carol" (which I swear is one of the most faithful to the spirit of the book of all the various movie adaptations) "it is the season of the heart" and "the summer of the soul in December". Even as a not-particularly-religious individual, it is one of my favorite times of the year for its emphasis on joy, fellowship, peace of Earth, pecan pie, peanut butter fudge . . . .
Did I mention that this was on the LAST day of the THIRD week of DECEMBER? And NOT the FIRST day of the LAST week of OCTOBER? Or even the first day of the second week of November, which is today, and that therefore right now is NOT the season to be jolly? It is, in fact, the season to hunt down anyone singing, "fa-la-la-la-la" and beat them about the head with last year's fruitcake until they damn well STOP!
I swear! It's turning into a sort of zombie B horror movie: "THE HOLIDAY THAT ATE THE CALENDAR!"
When I was a kid my dad and I would go out sometime during the week before Christmas, sometimes even on Christmas Eve, and cut a Christmas tree. (My mom would always say, "well, if you have to bring a tree in the house, at least get a little one!". We'd come home with a monster that we had to cut three feet off of to get it in the living room and then tie to the wall with hay-baling twine and Dad would say, "you know, that looked a lot smaller in the field.") We'd decorate the tree and bake cookies and read "A Christmas Carol" and Mom would bake pies and relatives would start showing up so that, by bedtime, the living room would be wall-to-wall with spare mattresses and people in sleeping bags and people would be sleeping at both ends of all the beds. The next morning there'd be presents and stockings (our stockings always had apples, oranges, walnuts, candy canes and chocolate candy). Then us kids and the younger men would sit around and watch parades and football on TV while Mom and Dad and the women fixed a big dinner. By evening everyone would be gone except for maybe three or four of my oldest nieces and nephews, who were in my age range. We'd leave the tree up until New Year's Day and then the holiday season would be over for another 350-odd days.
When I got to college, there was a tradition called "Hanging of the Greens" on the first Friday of December, when we made wreaths for all the buildings on campus and hung them while caroling, before going to the dining hall for a big feast. It seemed a bit early to me, but then we weren't going to be there for the actual Christmas season, and everyone wanted a chance to celebrate the holiday with our school friends, so it was okay.
I don't know how long retailers have been doing the whole "Black Friday blitz" thing, but I became aware of it sometime after I got out of college. I thought, "good grief! It's only the day after Thanksgiving and they're already talking about Christmas! Can't they let us get done with one holiday before they start the next?" Then the sales and decorations started showing up before Thanksgiving. Slowly but relentlessly they supplanted the weaker holiday. I can't even remember the last time I saw an historically inaccurate and politically incorrect "Indians and Pilgrims" display or a crepe paper turkey!
Then last year Walmart started playing Christmas music the day after Halloween. The DAY after HALLOWEEN! And now this year there was Christmas merchandise in the same aisle as the Halloween merchandise the week BEFORE Halloween.
Labor Day's next! And after that it's only a matter of time before the Fourth of July gets it. As far as I can see, it's not going to end until Christmas has worked its way clear around the calendar and devoured itself.