WARNING! This blog post may be controversial. I know this could pit holiday purists who say things like, “Don’t put your Christmas lights up before I’ve had a chance to choke down Aunt Deedee’s dry Thanksgiving turkey” against those who say, “But I love Halloween and need to put out my skeleton family walking their skeleton dog in August.”
I’m willing to stand up for what is right and say, “Chill, bitches!”
When it’s mid-September and you already have all your giant inflatable spiders out, I feel like you’re wishing my life away. Just stop it! You’re pre-celebrating at everyone else’s expense!
Side Note: When did all holiday décor become inflatable? Last year, walking through the neighborhood, we passed a front yard filled with deflated reindeer. It looked like the aftermath of a Christmas Eve massacre.
Please know, this is not me saying, “Bah, humbug!” I love the holidays. But it would be nice to not feel as if we’re all rushing through September and October to get to the juicy stuff.
Let’s start with Halloween, since it’s the gateway to the Holiday corridor. Halloween has become huge. Originally a one-night, pagan event started by the Celts, it’s now celebrated in countries worldwide. And it’s the second biggest commercial holiday in the United States. Sherry Kuehl, writing in the Kansas City Star says, “According to the National Retail Federation, last year more than $10 billion was spent on costumes, decorations and, of course, 5-pound bags of snack-size Snickers bars.”
Here in the U.S., Halloween has also been mashed up with Day of the Dead. You need to know that Mexico’s Día de Muertos is not Halloween. It’s a beautiful holiday honoring loved ones who’ve passed, keeping them alive in our hearts and welcoming them back home with love and a sense of humor. Halloween had similar roots here. But Americans have an uncanny ability to commercialize the beauty and sentiment right out of a spiritual celebration, turning it into cheap kitsch. (Not that I don’t own plastic fangs.)
While I don’t go as over-the-top as some, I do enjoy the creative pageantry of Halloween. When I lived in NYC, the Halloween parade in Greenwich Village was a must. Imagine a sea of smart, interested and interesting people, many with access to professional costume designers. Then, in Park City Utah, I found guilty pleasure in the annual Halloween Dog Parade. Here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, if you’re not up for a good golf cart parade with all-out commitment to themes ranging from Beetlejuice to the Flintstones, and people throwing Mardi-Gras beads and cheap chocolate, I don’t want to know you.
But, but, but—when you start putting all that shit up before Labor Day, I say No. The agreed-upon line for pre-holiday decorating should be, at most, a month out. And that’s me bending.
Thanksgiving is the holiday where we look forward to being with family and simultaneously cringe at the thought of being with family. This holiday gets a little less pre-play than the other biggies. Maybe that’s because it’s sandwiched in the middle of the two bahemouths. Right between folks deflating their bleeding snowmen and inflating their politically-correct little people in red lederhosen. Still, I saw my first giant inflatable Turkey on October 5th. I call fowl! (Yes. I went there.)
Side Note: I’m against any animated versions of anthropomorphized cartoon animals joyfully inviting me to devour them. The message is too conflicting. “I’m delicious. Make my day by ending my life.” (StarKist’s Charlie The Tuna could be the poster boy for this cause.)
The mac daddy of all holidays in the U.S. is, of course, Christmas. In my purist universe, New York City got it right. At the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, after all the bands and giant balloons of Spiderman and Snoopy, comes Santa on his sleigh saying, “I gave Thanksgiving its due. It’s had its time in the spotlight. And now, what you’ve all been waiting for...” Santa is a gentleman. That is, until he hits the egg nog too hard. Then, all bets are off and someone’s waking up with a soiled fake beard as their park-bench pillow.
Sudden Revelation: Could the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade be the impetus for the explosion of inflatable lawn decorations? Hm.
But not everyone takes their cue from Macy’s Santa. We’ve barely choked down our pumpkin-spice hot-dogs when some guy with reindeer horns is on TV trying to sell us tires. “Ever wonder how Santa’s sleigh gets good traction on snow-covered roofs?” The Christmas ads now start in September, when the back-to-school ads are still running. Backpacks, binders, eggnog and Blitzen.
Side Note #3: Homemade eggnog lasts 2-3 days if stored at 40 degrees or less. Store-bought eggnog lasts 5-7 days within opening if it has been refrigerated. Canned eggnog lasts 4 to 5 months and around 5-7 days after opening. Safety first!
When proprietors start playing Christmas music in their stores and I’ve yet to enjoy the annual Thanksgiving “homemade vs. canned” cranberry sauce argument, I walk out. (BTW, just put out both kinds of sauce.) Life is short enough as it is. I don’t want to rush things. I’d like to be free to slow down and relish as much of it as possible.
We’ve all heard people say, “Wow, this year flew by.” We may have even said it ourselves. Why? I contend it’s because you’re planning out your sexy cat costume in April. Isn’t there something that’s actually happening in April that you could be enjoying?
Prevailing wisdom says that we should try to live in the moment. Be present in our lives. Focus on what’s happening now. Feel it. Be in it. Stop worrying about things that haven’t yet and may not happen. How can we be present when we’re planning who shouldn’t sit next to whom at the Christmas dinner table in May? And how can we truly enjoy the holiday we’re in when we’re already celebrating the next one?
Yes, there is value in the fun of anticipating. But anticipation is allowed to be fleeting. It doesn’t need to be in the form of lawn ornaments that force your neighbors to leap months ahead.
So I’m asking nicely. Please allow me and the rest of us to enjoy today without pushing next month on us. And if you just can’t face September without fake cadavers and god-forbid “candy corn,” maybe you could limit yourself to putting them out inside your home, and have them seep onto the lawn until October.
Tangential pet peeve: Black Friday. It feels more like we now black out the entire month of November for people begging us to buy something. On Amazon, Black Friday starts weeks before Thanksgiving. And, of course, there’s Cyber Monday and now, Cyber Week. As someone who is shopping-averse, I do not get the mania. The thrill of the hunt? I’d rather watch my three-year-old TV while wearing my 12-year-old jeans and 10-year-old T-shirt. (Let’s not get into how old my underwear is.)
So readers, do you jump the season or wait to celebrate? I’m curious to know where you land on this one.
Cheers, happy holidays and stay careful-sh,
Honey Parker has been writing, writing, writing for decades, decades, decades. In there, she has also been a standup comedian, a Hollywood screenwriter, a director, and a co-author of edgy business books. Careful-ish is her debut novel. It is the first in a trilogy. It is comedy-ish.