Pushing the Calendar

Jimmy Buffett has a song on his Christmas album ’Tis The Season called, Santa Stole Thanksgiving. His lyrics clearly depict the feeling that many have that the retail world keeps pushing the seasons on us earlier and earlier.

Ooh, ooh
Santa stole Thanksgiving for Christmas
Dragged Plymouth Rock to the North Pole with his sled
Pilgrims never saw him coming
The Wampanoags they kept drumming
That Thursday in November
Gob-gobble about December

The next verse is even more telling…

Santa stole Thanksgiving for Christmas
It was such a happy holiday
No more laid-back relaxation
It’s Black Friday degradation
Seems Santa sold Thanksgiving to the mall

Back in the dark ages, when we were kids, the Christmas season didn’t start till Santa showed up at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Although many give lip service to that premise, the truth is that many in the retail world go from Labor Day right to Christmas! See for yourself! On Wednesday September 8th, at the Costco in Stafford Township, New Jersey, the Christmas Department was already set up!

For another example of how far we have come, let’s turn to the classic song We Need a Little Christmas, from the 1966 Broadway Musical Mame, with words and lyrics by Jerry Herman. Mame and her household staff sing this song at a particularly down time, starting off with this uplifting verse:

Haul out the holly
Put up the tree before
My spirit falls again
Fill up the stocking
I may be rushing things
But deck the halls again now

For we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
Candles in the window
Carols at the spinet
Yes, we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
It hasn’t snowed a single flurry
But Santa, dear, we’re in a hurry

So there are a couple of clues there that they are, in their minds, early for Christmas! Like when Mame sings, “I may be rushing things,” or that last line, “It hasn’t snowed a single flurry, But Santa, dear, we’re in a hurry.” Even more indication that they are early, when later in the song, young Patrick Denison has this line:

But Auntie Mame!
It’s one week from Thanksgiving Day now

Remember, a pivotal part of the Mame story, was the stock market crash of 1929, so even in 1966, this was by no means a current story, but I don’t believe in 1966, when I was 16 years old, we had pushed holidays around the calendar for the benefit of the retail world, as much as we find today!

Look, you want a bathing suit for a vacation in August, if you go to the store in August, you are more likely to find sweaters and other fall clothes on the shelves. Want new cushions for your back yard furniture, don’t show up at Lowes or Home Depot in June, because they’ll all be gone! After all, they’ve been in the store since just after they took down their Christmas displays. Speaking of Christmas, need a new set of lights for the tree, head to the stores in October, because that’s when they stock their shelves and you’ll be lucky to find anything in December.

I know, I know…stop being an old fart and lamenting about how the world has changed, right? I’m sorry, but we love Christmas and honestly, we start listening to Christmas music in November (in the car and in our house…but only when we are alone!), but we don’t decorate the outside of the house, or put up the tree until after Thanksgiving! We are traditionalists (that’s a classier way to say old farts) and sorry, but I don’t need to have Pumpkins pushed on us on September 10th, a full 7 Weeks and two days before Halloween, as Shoprite in Somers Point is already doing!

Okay…Enjoy the Holiday…whatever the calendar says it is, because I’ve lost track!
Rant over!

Jimmy Buffett from his album ’Tis the Season with Santa Stole Thanksgiving

Angela Lansbury and the Broadway cast from Mame with We Need a Little Christmas

One thought on “Pushing the Calendar

  1. You are so right about this, old friend! I freely admit that since childhood the season between Halloween and Epiphany has been a magical time for me. It continues to make even this current disordered world just abit more magical. If one purposely shuns the many madnesses, small and great, that seem to dominate and denigrate our civilized condition and harken to those warm and comfortable pieces of joy still within us, then, regardless of age, we can live the true joy of the season. One of these ‘madnesses’ is what you have so clearly described…the shifting of the commercial Christmas season to include the earliest weeks of Fall. I very much concur with your thoughts here.

    As an aside, although in Austria, Susi and I continue to celebrate the American Thanksgiving with our children, grandkids and good friends. Susi brings to the table a glorious meal, including all the delectables that we have so enjoyed since childhood. I used to sneak away to watch the Macy’s parade on the Internet but have not done so for some years now. Like so much of our most cherished treasures of childhood, even the parade has for some time now become dominated and denigrated by glitterati sing-song Hollywood celebrities and politicized messages; even this parade has lost so much of its innocence. I therefore elsewhere seek out broadcasts about the Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Although the American/English traditions are not celebrated here in Austria, I wish for our grandchildren to also experience abit of what I did when I was their age and hope they, too, will be able throughout their lives to hold on to the true meaning and joys of the entire holiday season as I have experienced it over these past seven decades.

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