The Roundup -

Continuous Holiday Carousel


Holiday seasons nowadays tend to blend together for one continuous shopping spree, starting in late September when merchants feel obligated to start pushing Halloween, and lasting right through Easter the following spring. When I was a kid, admittedly quite some time ago, this behavior on the part of shopkeepers didn’t exist and we as consumers didn’t demand it. Stores began stocking shelves with Halloween treats and costumes the first or second week of October. We didn’t even begin thinking about what we might want to wear when we went out to pester the neighbors for candy until the night we planned to go out on the town, and of course we dreamed up our own costumes and put them together ourselves. I recall a particularly inventive child who sewed mousetraps on a bed sheet, draped herself with the sheet, and went trick-or-treating as one of the Untouchables (of course kids today never heard of The Untouchables TV series so the costume would have no meaning for them). What fun, what anticipation, what creativity went into producing some of our outfits. We participated in the makings of the costume and used what we had on hand; we didn’t e4xpect our parents to purchase a fancy Spiderman outfit, allow us to wear it once, and then discard it after Halloween. We appreciated the Halloween activities, the day came and went with appropriate fanfare, and the preparation and actual events lasted maybe a total of a week.

Then we turned our thoughts toward Thanksgiving. In early November turkeys went on sale, cranberries appeared on grocery shelves, and we anticipated the coming huge feast we shared with family members. No one thought about Christmas, as Thanksgiving was a holiday in and of itself that we wanted to enjoy first. Stores obliged as they seemed to have an unwritten rule that Christmas decorations and hoopla did not surface until Thanksgiving came and went.

Black Friday did not exist in my childhood. No one dreamed of rushing out the day after Thanksgiving to start the feeding frenzy of Christmas. We didn’t feel the need to scurry off to a store at four in the morning for the dubious delight of standing in line waiting for the store to open just for the opportunity to elbow others out of our way so we could snatch up cheap items of junk to give to family members for Christmas. Instead, we enjoyed the day after Thanksgiving as an extra day off, and appreciated it as part of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The week after Thanksgiving, we started to think about Christmas with delight and with expectations that within a few weeks, we’d put up and decorate a tree, start looking for appropriate gifts for family members, and decorate the house. We dreamed of the treats we’d eat that we only enjoyed at Christmastime, such as my mother’s scrumptious homemade fruitcake, multi-colored coconut bonbons, and candy canes. We weren’t bombarded with the idea of Christmas in early November, as it took until the first of December before stores cranked up for the holidays and began pushing merchandise in earnest. We could enjoy the season, move into it slowly, and savor the anticipation of what the Yuletide had in store.

With the end of the holiday Christmas season, we never gave Valentine’s Day a thought until February arrived. Stores then displayed their selection of Valentines cards along with the boxes of chocolates packaged in the heart shaped boxes. Easter cards, candy, and accessories made an appearance a few weeks before Easter arrived, and we had the time to savor the uniqueness of Easter and look forward to the fruit and nut eggs my mother always bought, a delectable specialty only available at Eastertime.

My goodness how all this has changed. Now the continuous seven to eight month round of holiday madness overload begins on Labor Day, when merchants set out Halloween candy, costumes, and fall decorations, urging us to buy, buy, buy now while supplies last. Halloween becomes stale before it even arrives, and then of course the Christmas furor begins the day after Halloween. Stores display all manner of Christmas items by the first of November, and we are off and running for the next two months deluged with Christmas hubbub.

Thanksgiving gets lost in the shuffle, and by the first of December, I for one am so tired of the canned Christmas music, the sight of cheap trinkets, and the overload of Christmas paraphernalia that the holiday has all but lost its appeal. If I don’t pace myself and tune out the clamor, I become totally wearied by the event before it even arrives.

Valentine’s Day of course makes an appearance the day after New Year. The cards and boxes of candy show up on display by January 2 and stare us in the face for over a month. Easter shows up the day after Valentine’s Day, and we are forced to look at Easter items, candy made from artificial chocolate, and other less than satisfactory items until Easter comes and goes.

At least after Easter moves on for another year, we finally get a reprieve from the constant holiday commercialism we’ve been subjected to for months, and we now can enjoy ordinary days.

Holidays just aren’t the same for me now as they were when I was a child. The whole round of endless celebrating gets ridiculous, and we lose the magic and wonderment that ought to accompany each and every special day. Instead, the joy vanishes when we face constant celebrations that blend endlessly together for over half the year. Nothing remains extraordinary; what used to be specialty foods for particular holidays we now can purchase year round, so the unique and distinct lose charm and become routine.

We need special days to regroup, reconnect, and celebrate, but we don’t need deluged day after day and month after month from September until Easter arrives with the idea of celebration and holidays. The special becomes mundane, the uniqueness becomes commonplace, and we all lose.


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