Going into the local CVS on New Year’s Eve, I noticed every Christmas item on sale. I expected that to be the case, but right alongside these festive decorations were shelves of Valentine’s Day products. This reminded me of being in the same store back in October when these Christmas things were displayed right next to Halloween costumes and decorations. I have complained about this kind of thing before, but it just seems to be getting more common everywhere I go.
It makes me realize that “the holidays” – which once referred only to the time from Christmas to New Year’s Day – have become redefined, mostly by the retailers who have taken advantage of America’s need to celebrate these occasions and taken it to an extreme. It used to be commonplace to see a simple witch and jack-o-lantern in a window (that’s what my Mom did when we were kids), but now Halloween has become a retail juggernaut that rivals Christmas in terms of what people spend on decorations. I have seen decorated houses complete with animated ghouls and goblins that match amusement park standards.
Initially I could accept that “the holidays” extended to at first include Thanksgiving and then Halloween, but now they seem to extend right into February since Valentine’s Day has morphed into yet another day for which people decorate, buy lavish presents, and go to restaurants. I suppose it is good for the economy and those who rather give than receive, though the receivers are making out just fine as well.
The future seems pretty clear to me. One day we will be celebrating “Hallothankschristine’s Days” that will run from October 1 through February 14. It will be a nonstop time of decorations, celebrations, and endless sales in the stores. Faced with the inevitability of such a mutation of what once were individually recognized days, it could very well be that we just start throwing everything up at once, with Valentine’s Day hearts dangling from trees along with skeletons, pilgrim’s hats, and Christmas lights.
I guess we must face that the fact that this is now becoming a reality. With Easter and Mother’s Day looming on the horizon, I just wonder how long it will take for them to bring these occasions into the fold. Then we will have “Hallothankschristinetermom” or something like that. Throw Fourth of July and Labor Day into the mix, and then basically we can stay decorated all year long. Lights can blaze on houses 365 days a year, and we will reach the ostensibly foregone conclusion that none of these former holidays matter as much as the ability to recognize each day as something to celebrate.
Some of us then could become rebels and not decorate, refusing to be part of the maddening crowd, or we could start something like Seinfeld’s Festivus, which we only mark once a year by defiantly celebrating it on some day in the middle of the week. We could begin a movement, kind of like an Occupy the Holidays kind of thing, and then who knows how far we could take it? Maybe we will become so big that we will be the 99% someday, and at that point there will be only our one holiday and no more corruption of the original intent of celebration that was ruined by it becoming “a big commercial racket,” as Charlie Brown’s Lucy Van Pelt once astutely noted, “run by a big eastern syndicate.”
Until that time I suppose I will, like the rest of you, be inundated by holiday madness for most of the year. I’d wish you a Happy New Year, but apparently it’s almost Valentine’s Day, so I missed my opportunity.