By THE BLUE AND GRAY PRESS STAFF
As the weather cools and the trees shed their leaves, signs of Christmas are already beginning to appear. Songs on the radio. Lights in the store fronts. Red cups at Starbucks. But in the middle of November, still weeks before Thanksgiving?
Fueled by pathos, tradition and publicity, Christmas is arguably the most anticipated holiday of the year. You would not buy Easter eggs three months in advance. If you bought Valentine’s flowers early, they would certainly wilt. And if you dressed as Freddy Krueger in July, there is a good chance you would be apprehended by law enforcement.
Christmas is an anomaly. We overlook the plastic evergreens lined up beside summer patio furniture in August. We excuse the eggnog in September. We count these things as seasonal cheer and accept the early arrival.
Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and on occasion Ramadan further amplify the seasonal excitement. The holidays blend and interact in such unique ways. The red and green colors found in Kwanazaa kinaras echo the colors of mistletoe and holly. It is not uncommon to see Christmas trees topped with menorahs or red and white kippahs reminiscent of Santa’s attire.
As a staff, we believe celebrating December’s holidays at this point is a little premature. Bing Crosby albums and ugly pom-pom sweaters, in our opinion, should be stowed away until after Thanksgiving. There is a fine line between tasteful and tacky, and timing has everything to do with it.
Marketers have been inching up the start of holiday sales every year for decades now. Coined as “Christmas Creep,” the phenomenon has never been more prevalent. This year, both Wal-Mart and Amazon launched Black Friday sales on Nov. 1. PayPal, the earliest of early birds, started seasonal discounts on Sept. 30.
Of course, retailers are not without good reason for starting early. Holiday sales represent 20 to 30 percent of annual sales according to William Cody, managing director of the Jay H. Baker Retailing Initiative at Wharton. Lengthening that window of time allows for greater consumer spending.
The city of Fredericksburg is no exception to the early promotion of festivities. Days before Halloween, lampposts downtown were adorned with evergreen garlands and cherry red bows. Moreover, the two-hour street parking was extended to four hours on Nov. 8 and that extension will carry through Dec. 31. More time to park, of course, ensures more to time to shop.
We encourage you to cherish these last few days of November. Enjoy Thanksgiving while it lasts. Call up your Mom and tell her you love her. Roast the turkey with your uncle. And most importantly, eat those mashed potatoes and gravy with all the gratitude you can muster.