Those who love Christmas should hate the Christmas creep
No one is immune to the detriment that comes from too much of a good thing. As such, no matter how insatiable your holiday hankerings may feel, the Christmas creep is no friend of yours.
On the surface, it appears counterintuitive to spotlight the trend I wish would stay in the dark. But we must address the elephant — or, rather, the elf-ephant — in the room in order to usher it out.
Passive acceptance is the lone explanation for why the Christmas creep continues to amplify its presence at a greater distance from the holiday in question. Even for millennials, it is easy to recall when it was unheard of for media ads to start hyping Dec. 25 amidst the World Series.
That practice is no longer unusual. Neither is the presence of Christmas merchandise in marquee and mom-and-pop stores before fall settles both of its feet in the northern U.S.
Name any established October or November occasion — big and small, annual, biennial or even quadrennial. They are all losing their share of the hype pie, and doing so at a rate that serves to cheapen the excitement for what would otherwise be waiting its turn.
I witnessed the full effect of this phenomenon during my first semester of college in 2007. Two days prior to Thanksgiving, I flew out of the T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, R.I., for a quick vacation. Not so surprisingly, the radio on the airport’s PA system was already locked in to the local Christmas music station.
Such was still the case when I flew back in at the end of the week, when Black Friday had come and gone, thus properly beginning the season. But the kicker took root when I returned once more on Dec. 19 of that year.
One day after I finished my fall-term finals, my own readiness for the grand year-end holiday was at its peak. That holiday was still a good six days away.
And yet, as I collected my belongings after clearing security and went to find my gate, I heard Elvis Presley’s “Don’t Be Cruel” on the loudspeakers.
I grant I am hardly a fan of music from such a bygone era, and thus do not know much about it. Nonetheless, I know enough to understand that “Don’t Be Cruel” did not mean, “Be nice, not naughty, because it’s Christmas.” Presley never put that song on the same album as “Blue Christmas” or “Santa Claus Is Back in Town.”
Yep, for the powers that be at T.F. Green, the appetite for seasonal entertainment had expired. The Christmas creep had clearly killed their craving.
The mood is not the only endangered species when the Christmas creep goes on its imperial calendar conquest. Simple science says that the average household tree — meticulous care aside — will only stay alive and presentable for so long.
Bob’s Burgers satirized this reality well enough through the 2013 episode, “Christmas in the Car.” In it, the overeager Linda buys a pair of ill-fated trees the day after Halloween and Thanksgiving, respectively. Besides setting the Belchers back a few bucks, this sends them on a hasty hunt for a third tree on the final night of the holiday season.
But note that this fictional narrative was not much of a stretch of the truth. Per an AOL advice column from 2014, “Scotch pine, perhaps the most common Christmas tree, has about four weeks of life in it once it’s cut down and is known for good needle retention.”
Four weeks? That hovers around your median of time between Black Friday and Boxing Day. The longest that window can span is 33 days, the shortest 27 days.
So long as the tree is one of this holiday’s signature secular symbols, its living-room lifespan might as well be a cautionary benchmark of the season’s ideal timeframe.
For reasons such as these, three years after the T.F. Green radio revelation, I voiced my misgivings when an English professor mentioned his interest in creating an elective course dedicated solely to Christmas literature. That would have entailed daily absorption in the topic from the day after Labor Day onward for three-plus months.
This is why, if a remote is in my reach when premature commercials pop up, I become a vigilante censor. The “last channel” and “mute” buttons are a crucial tag team in this scenario.
Unfortunately, such an escape is not always as easy, especially when one is in public, and swamped by the aforementioned stores.
Contrary to the conceptions of others, this fight against the early Yuletide onset is not to follow the Scrooge school of thought. It is simply an act of mildly tough love and a plea for patience.
We do not need, as taste-bud treat-seekers, to see menus plastered with peppermint, eggnog and gingerbread specials when the natural atmosphere calls for pumpkin spice and apple items.
We do not need, as channel surfers, to encounter a half-dozen B- and C-list Christmas films when a second helping of Planes, Trains and Automobiles still makes sense.
We do not need, as commercial consumers, any buildup to the ultimate winter holiday when America’s boys of summer are engaged in their Fall Classic.
We did not need, as news absorbers, to hear about the Rockefeller Center procuring its tree on the eve of Veterans Day. The practicality of making advanced arrangements is one matter, but unveiling the details to the public is another.
American businesses do not need to tout Black Friday sales when they have every means to hold a Veterans Day or pre-Thanksgiving special first. The sales and purchases are essentially the same, but the rough two-week differential is much starker to the psyche.
So one holiday at a time, please. That need not be too much (or too little) to ask.
Now that we have cleared this issue, I have a day of pigskin, potatoes and pie to get back to dreaming about. Care to join?