By Erin Brindle
A few weeks ago, while I wandered around meticulously sniffing every candle at Bath and Body Works, amidst the shamblings of soccer moms and teenage girls dragging around their miserable-looking boyfriends, I heard a familiar tune. It was a cover of a song from Disney’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
Based on a poem by Tim Burton rumored to have been inspired by seeing a Halloween display being replaced by a Christmas display, the whole ordeal made me come to a realization: Holidays are, in fact, taking each other over.
Here I am buying pumpkin scented candles in August, the summer candles were all cycled through in spring, and the spring scents came out in Winter a few days after Christmas. The calendar has become an ouroboros going in circles eating its own tail.
This is an epidemic. This foul plague of hyper-commercialized holidays must be quashed before there are any more casualties. We’ve already lost Thanksgiving to its clutches.
Once upon a time, there was this wonderful holiday called Thanksgiving. It was where families gathered together for a week of eating, relaxation and being grateful for the bountiful blessings life has to offer. Then, it became the turkey day before Black Friday. Finally, Black Friday got absorbed by Cyber Monday, reducing Thanksgiving into little more than a long weekend with sales cushioning either side. I suppose a holiday about gratitude for what one has does not fit with large chain retailers’ vision for growth, which is why they set out to eliminate it with sales on big-ticket items, like flat screens.
Retail America is missing no opportunity to remind us Christmas is coming. They are trying to distract us from our everyday misery by beating us over the head with their trite comforts of holiday paraphernalia. From cozy attire, to winter décor and everything under the sun being pumpkin flavored – it’s all a giant ploy for people to chase the euphoria they get during the holidays.
The whole thing is a scam, and the good feelings you get from buying cute dangly pumpkin lights are fleeting. Countless Christmas movies have spelled this out, but we still fall for it earlier every year. Do what you want and buy whatever kitsch decoration makes you happy, but be aware that it’s not the aesthetic that makes you happy, but the joyful memories and love you associate with it.
The excessive commercialism reduces holidays to little more than a distraction from everyday life, when they should be everything but. We celebrate holidays at specific times, because they are times we have to devote our attention to the things that truly matter in our lives. They are special because they are rare times without the distraction and demands of everyday life. Thus, holiday merchandise should be special and appropriately temporary, but it won’t.
To join death and taxes, as a universal inevitability, is that corporate America will push all holiday merchandise as early as possible. Eventually, the whole calendar will be full, and holidays will battle for dominance, until only Christmas prevails, because there can be only one.