Taking one holiday at a time

Molly Grace

If I have one pet peeve that drives me crazier than any other, it’s the premature celebration of a holiday. It seems to me that each year, the Christmas season tries to crawl further and further up on our calendars. I mean, I love “Jingle Bells” as much as the next person, but when I heard that familiar tune blasting on the radio as I scanned through the stations on my way back to Villanova after Fall Break, I couldn’t help but be irked.

I’m used to hearing these songs and seeing red, white and green decorations before Thanksgiving, but before Halloween? Please don’t cast me off as Mr. Scrooge if I think that’s a bit ridiculous.I think the problem is the commercialization of Christmas by businesses, eager to promote the idea of buy, buy, buy. They dress their displays in Christmas-y themes, string up white lights around the malls, put fake snow in their store windows, hang ornaments on fake Christmas trees, set up Santa Claus’s house where children can formulate their wish-lists, and play seasonal music from the loudspeakers, all with the intention of enveloping their shoppers in the joyful holiday spirit so that they will be more apt to pull out their credit cards in the annual attempt to cross every name off their lists.

The basic idea is simple: the earlier people start shopping for gifts, the more they will buy, for the lists continue to grow throughout the season as shoppers try not to leave anyone out. By wrapping up this exploitive marketing ploy in a big golden bow, they dupe their consumers into spending more money. The companies’ advertisers therefore succeed in capitalizing on this holiday spirit that they have created way before the holiday season should be allowed to begin. But, at the same time, they make other shoppers – like me, and I seriously hope I am not alone in this feeling – mad enough to avoid their stores on the basic principle that it is just too early to start holiday shopping.

About a week before Thanksgiving, I had to make a quick stop in the King of Prussia Mall. Much like I expected, anyone who was oblivious to time would think that it was just days before December 25th. Everywhere you looked, there was some holiday paraphernalia, blinding me at every turn and making me claustrophobic. I couldn’t wait to get out of this warped atmosphere and into the fresh air. But then I walked past one department store and did a double take, having to convince myself that I was not making this up: in a store front – noticeably absent of the Christmas glitter – I saw one of the best signs I’ve ever seen, sending the message that I had spent the last hour wanting to yell at all the oblivious shoppers around me: “One holiday at a time.” I wanted to jump up and down, go in and give the manager a hug, write them a letter, anything to show my appreciation for finally finding a store that resisted the attempt to turn such a special holiday season into a money-making enterprise so far in advance, before we had time to properly celebrate another holiday I find just as special.

I’m sure that if I walked into the mall today and revisited the same department store, I would find the requisite white lights, holiday carols, and red and green trimmings plastered all over, but at least they had enough respect for the tradition of Thanksgiving to postpone the commercialism.

While Christmas – or whatever winter holiday you choose to celebrate – is very nice in and of itself, I have a hard time thinking of a more important holiday than Thanksgiving. It’s a holiday without commercialization, presents, or a lot of hoopla, as evidenced by the fact that it does not even make a blip on the radar of American commercial businesses.

Wait, I take that back. While advertisers would rather gloss over the importance of Turkey Day, I admit that it has become a major marketing ploy… except that its sole value lies in the fact that it has become the kick-off for the official holiday shopping season. Never mind the fact that Thanksgiving is the one holiday exclusively set apart for us to gather together with the people we love and care about. While sharing a meal, we are able to reconnect with family members and friends, rehash old memories while making new ones, and remind ourselves of just how fortunate we all are and how we have so much to be truly thankful for. While I love Thanksgiving, I’ll be the first to admit that my Thanksgiving Day ended with my family’s tradition of watching the classic movie “White Christmas.” And,while you couldn’t pay me enough money to venture into a store on Black Friday, I was at the mall on Saturday, Christmas shopping with my mom. And on this car ride back to Villanova, Christmas music was not only very welcome, it was particularly sought after. Like I said, I am a big advocate of the sign’s philosophy. Now that Thanksgiving is over, you have my permission to go crazy.