And now, part II of a feature I started in December 2011: Things White Middle Class People Get Overly Worked Up About.
On Monday during my weekly grocery shop in the rain (sans umbrella because the Fitbit-wearing left arm must always be free to swing and the right arm must pull the trolley) I saw chocolate Santas at Aldi. It didn’t really register with me, and I went onto Sainsbury’s. There I saw an aisle of Christmas gift suggestions. At Waitrose I saw Christmas poppers. And then it dawned on me that even though my parents and I had just booked our trip to Biltmore for December, it was still only the second week of October.
Had this been in America, there would have been an uprising — angry mobs with Halloween- and Thanksgiving-themed pitchforks. There’s an understood rule in the U.S. that you do not celebrate anything Christmas-related until after Thanksgiving. (6pm on Thanksgiving to be exact, or maybe earlier this year, I haven’t seen any Black Friday doorbuster ads yet). To get an idea of how worked up Americans get over this, take a look at these comics:
As you can see, Americans get really riled up about this — but why? Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, as the song goes. Why don’t they want to get a jump start on it? I doubt they really care about how Mr. Turkey feels getting passed over (judging by the comics, he’d like that!).
All I can think of is that it’s about time. As Jim Steinman wrote in Meat Loaf’s song “Heaven Can Wait”: “And all I’ve got is time until the end of time.” If you want to get deep about it, time really is all we have — everything else like health, wealth and happiness can extend our time and make it more enjoyable, but once it’s gone, we can’t get it back. Adam Carolla joked on his podcast that old people continually wake up and eat earlier and earlier in the hopes that one day they’ll actually gain a day back by moving everything forward (like showing up for Thanksgiving dinner so early that you arrive on Wednesday night instead). We don’t want to think about December in October because it’s like skipping over two whole months we’ll never get back, and we’re supposed to “live every day to the fullest.” On the other hand, I like getting into the Christmas spirit early (maybe not second week of October early, but November will do). Since I head back to the U.S. for Thanksgiving through Christmas, I would miss out on the London festivities if they didn’t start so early (and they’re allowed to start early since Thanksgiving is not a thing and Halloween barely is). I get that people feel like retailers are taking advantage of them by pushing the holidays too soon, but think of it the other way — if people started at least thinking about Christmas gift ideas a little earlier (not even buying yet), then there’d be less stress and rush in December. But of course, life is all about prolonging the inevitable, isn’t it?