I hate to have to get mean again but you leave me no choice. So ad people of the world, take heed, STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! Please, just stop it.
For those of you fortunate enough to not have caught the commercial that caused me to go off the deep end, let me briefly describe it to you and then you decide if it isn’t enough to send most sane people screaming from the room.
A cheery person in winter garb is peering in a store window. Around him snowflakes gently fall and under his arm is a package wrapped in silver and red. Little bells jingle in the distance. The date is October 18.
Now I will concede to you that the word Christmas is never actually used. No carols are played and Santa is never seen. But this is a Christmas commercial nonetheless. Unless, of course, there is some other holiday between now and then that involves snowflakes, festively wrapped gifts and jingling bells.
I once traveled to England with my sister at the end of November. We were very young at the time and only starting to really absorb the fact that the rest of the world was not just a clone of America. But we hadn’t thought that all the way through to its logical conclusion yet. So when we walked the streets of London to shop at Harrods’s and other famous emporia, we were surprised to find them fully decorated for the coming Christmas season.
How rude, we thought, to rush Thanksgiving so much that it was virtually ignored in order to get a week’s more advertising in for the Christmas buying splurge. Where were the pumpkins and scarecrows, the cranberry jelly and the turkeys? Of course, we eventually realized that in England they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving and so they were not really jumping one holiday to get a head start on another.
That was over twenty years ago and yet I still find something wrong with the idea of beginning Christmas in October, at least here in America. Call me old fashioned, but I kind of liked it the way it was back in pre-history when October was Halloween, November was Thanksgiving and December was Christmas and everyone respected those boundaries. It gave order to our world and allowed those of us who were not holiday fanatics to take some comfort in the fact that we would only have to listen to Jingle Bells for one month each year.
Now, advertisers have blurred all the lines in the hope of squeezing that extra dollar out of consumers already drowning in debt. Which doesn’t bother me half as much as the fact that by expanding the “holiday” season by almost two extra months, I will be forced to listen to some of the sappiest songs ever created even longer than usual. And that is just plain wrong.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday. No gifts to buy and no one looks askance if you don’t put up decorations. The whole day is centered around a wonderful meal after which you ingest wonderful desserts after which you have seconds so you won’t starve on the ride home. Does it get any better than that? I don’t think so. Which is why I think it’s a crime to give it such short shrift.
I live in dread of the day that Easter decorations go up the day after Christmas and Valentine’s Day just gets lost in the scuffle. I don’t worry about President’s Day. For so long as stores can use that day for sales, it’s safe. But to lose Valentine’s Day?
It’s not that I’m particularly sentimental about the day. After all, neither my birds nor my dog feel obligated to buy me a card. But it is the only holiday besides Thanksgiving that has a perfectly delightful food component. It is a little known fact that you can actually eat chocolate on Valentine’s Day and not gain weight. Do we really want to risk losing this holiday in our rush to Easter? I think not.
So I am begging advertisers, no holiday commercials until at least the middle of November. No presidential candidate polls until the year before the election. And for god’s sake, no sappy songs about elves and bells and snowflakes in a land that equates snow with darkness, cold and ice until absolutely necessary. Give us a break. Please.