What Special Time of the Year?

     This is an open letter to all retailers, mall managers, and shopping center moguls.  I fully understand the financial significance of the time period historically referred to as the holiday season.  I know that many retail establishments show annual profit for the first time each year after Thanksgiving when most people head out to shop for Christmas gifts.  I also know that the advent of Internet shopping has cut into this revenue stream in recent years.  Beyond  these, I know that every year the shopping season gets moved back further and further from the holidays so that it no longer has any real connection to any holiday.  This concerns me for several reasons.  First, as I mentioned, the increasing separation of the shopping from the season that spawns it; second, the undermining of the reason for the season; and third the detraction of other holidays which can lead to confusion for the shopper as to what month it actually is.

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     People have historically spent more money in the weeks leading up to Christmas than they typically spend all the rest of the year.  This shopping has historically happened starting the Friday after Thanksgiving where crowds rush the malls, shopping centers and big box stores trying to get the perfect gift.  Retailers have fueled this frenzy by offering significant savings on select items to entice shoppers into their stores.  This commercialism, while often rightfully criticized, is understandable.  Retailers need to make money.  There is no other reason to be in business.  The problem is that the retailers, in an effort to garner more profits, have figured that since they make so much money in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, surely they could make even more if customers would shop even earlier.  Now several retailers are opening on Thanksgiving day–typically a holiday where all stores would close so employees could spend the holiday with family–and offering the sales that would normally happen on Friday.  This is offensive.  The hapless employees, working for near minimum wage, are being forced to miss time with family; miss time off work to relax and enjoy the holiday and miss an opportunity to give thanks for the jobs they have just so they can work that job.  This is pure unmitigated greed.
     Christmas is a season special to Christians.  While many secular activities have become affiliated with Christmas, it is still primarily a Christian observance.  It draws its name from Christ, its purpose is to celebrate His birth and honor Him by giving gifts much as the Maji presented the Christ-child with gifts.  The amount of gifts and the dollar value of the gifts are not the most important considerations.  As more non-Christians celebrate the holiday, the true reason for the season gets lost amid the cash flow of excess and avarice.  Some of these people express offense at the religious connotations of Christmas.  The media, in an attempt to pander to the most viewers as possible introduces the term “Holiday Season” to describe Christmas and Thanksgiving and urge people to wish each other “Happy Holidays” rather than the more religious sounding “Merry Christmas.”  This is pure unmitigated political correctness.
     One of the more pleasant memories many people have of their childhood Christmases is going shopping for gifts (after Thanksgiving) and seeing the stores festooned with Christmas decorations of glittering gold, bright red and festive green while Christmas carols played over the store speakers.  It, more than any other sign, indicated that Christmas was just around the corner and Santa would soon stop by their house to leave presents under their Christmas tree.  These decorations would go up immediately after Thanksgiving for the Christmas rush.  Today, these decorations are up before the end of September.  This is ridiculous.  There are still two holidays to go before we get to Christmas.  One aisle of the store is filled with Halloween costumes, paper witch door decorations, annoying fake spider webs and enough candy to put California into insulin shock while the next is filled with glitter, pine wreaths, fake trees, lights and wrapping paper.  One goes to a WalMart and has to check one’s calendar app on the smart phone just to figure out what month it is.  Memorial City Mall is having their tree lighting show the weekend before Thanksgiving.  Why? I don’t have an answer.  This is pure unmitigated confusion.
     So, big retail executive/store owner/manager, I say to you: step back and let people enjoy the holidays as they come.  Let the Halloween candy be eaten and the Thanksgiving turkey digested before we get bombarded with Christmas sales.  Let’s not make the entire year nothing more than an extended Christmas shopping season.  To that end, I am making this pledge and encouraging all my friends and family to follow suit: I will not patronize any store that has Christmas decorations up before Halloween ever again.  This means that once the decorations come down after Christmas, if they go back up before Halloween, I stop shopping there.  Yes, this includes WalMart and the Malls.  I will resort to shopping at mom and pop stores, downtown retailers and online e-tailers for all of my Christmas gifts before I subject myself to listening to “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” being played over the speakers while being visually bombarded by Christmas decorations in October.  It pure unmitigated commercialism driven by greed and political correctness that creates confusion and ruins the Holidays for many Christians.

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