And they haven't even started yet.
I've been trying to figure out why I'm so Bah Humbug when it comes to the holiday season, because I never used to be. I noticed a marked change around 2003 when we stopped putting lights in the windows and outside. It was just too much damn trouble and half the time the suction cups would fall off the windows, so the lights would be hanging in crazy swoops. Or it'd be howling out, pouring down buckets, and Brian would have to go outside to unplug the lights out there. The last time I went all out decorating was for Xmas 2005. It took hours to drag all the boxes out and lovingly decorate the upstairs and downstairs. As I unpacked everything, I couldn't help but think that it felt like I'd just put it all away and now I had to drag it all out again. Then on December 26th, I spent hours packing it all back up.
One of the reasons we've scaled back is that Sagan is just too, erm.....'enthusiastic' and rather than have a precious, one of a kind ornament broken, we decided not to put them all out anymore, including a live tree like we had for the first 15 years of our marriage. Or the really cool wire tree that holds all the beaded ornaments I made & my modest collection of Christopher Radkos. I think I miss that more than anything else. But Sagan could easily take that whole thing down with his tail, and the results would be disastrous.
When you are a child, it seems like it takes forever for the holidays to arrive. Nothing went up in the stores till after Thanksgiving. When Santa arrived at the end of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, you knew the holidays were officially here. About the only mention of Xmas was when the big Sears Wish Book would arrive in the fall. No one put up any decorations till at least the first or second weekend in December. You got one chance to see the holiday specials. I remember one year, I had to have been 9 or 10, my parents & I went to Hyannis after school, to shop. At 7:45 I had a complete meltdown because "Charlie Brown Christmas" was starting at 8 and we'd never get home in time. My dad didn't yell at me often, but he yelled at me that night. Told me I'd seen it before and it'd be on again next year. That seemed like FOREVER away. But I loved Xmas when I was a kid, and even the first few years Brian & I were married in San Francisco were amazing. I got so excited, it was so special.
Slowly but surely, over the years, the holidays have begun to creep into our lives earlier and earlier. It's gotten to the point now where I can't stand hearing Xmas carols because everywhere you go, they are blasting. I would go postal if I had to work in any retail store or bank and have to listen to it all day long. One of my Facebook friends took down her Halloween decorations on 11/7 and put up all her Xmas decorations that day. It makes me feel kind of bad for Thanksgiving, getting lost in the shuffle between Halloween and the December holidays. It's just too early.
Catalogs arrive in July, packed with decorations and ornaments. Cable networks decide to be cute and run "Christmas in July" specials. It's 100 fucking degrees out and I'm supposed to get jazzed for the holidays? Are you kidding me? I went to Fred Meyer in late September and not only was it jammed with Halloween decorations (which of course went up in August), the end of the aisles had boxes of lighted deer, wreaths, holly, trees, etc. Xmas crap for sale in September.
I'm convinced that the reason the years are flying by is that everywhere we go, we are bombarded with advertising, rushing us through the seasons. Go into any store on Dec. 23rd and you'll see the Valentines Day stuff going up. February 12, the St. Patrick's Day stuff will be out, and Easter immediately after that. After Easter, all the lawn & gardening crap goes out. Grills, beach balls, etc. Back to school ads start immediately after July 4th, Halloween decorations are available by the end of August. We're never allowed to enjoy the lulls between holidays and seasons anymore. As soon as one ends, the next one must be prepared for.
It was October 4, and we saw the first commercial for The Seattle Ballet's Nutcracker. As I pounced on the mute button, I said to Brian, "It's gonna be a loooooooong next 3 months if this ad is gonna start running now..." This damn ad runs constantly, morning, noon and night, and has done so since we moved here. I can't help but wonder if the little girl in the ad is already out of college by now. I am so fucking sick of hearing Nutcracker music it's not even funny. And I used to love that soundtrack too.
Try watching college or NFL football this time of year. OMG, we had to mute every single commercial break this weekend. Could they be more annoying? And loud? The diamond ads, the car ads and oh my god the fucking Walmart ads (don't get me started on my Walmart rant). And who the fuck buys someone a car for Xmas? Seriously! Esp. in this economy?!?!?!
The diamond jewelry ads really send me into orbit. "DIAMONDS! Give her the gift she REALLY wants! Buy factory direct and SAVE!" Or the snotty shrew of a housewife emasculating her husband in front of the entire family, upon observing another female family member's diamond jewelry gift, sniping "HE went to JARED!" I went apeshit the first time I heard the commercial for DeBeers engagement rings that touted, "what better way to spend two months' salary?" TWO MONTHS' SALARY? On a ring? I said to Brian, "I swear to god if you have a spare 2 months' salary burning a hole in your pocket and you want to spend it on me, and you buy me diamonds, I will Kick. Your. Ass." (also, don't even get me started on my blood diamond rant). Every single year there is some new, usually ugly and/or gaudy diamond encrusted pendant that you MUST give your wife or girlfriend because it's the only way to truly express your love. Didn't I hear that last year with the journey pendant? And the year before with the circle pendant? And the year before that with the Past, Present & Future pendant? Quite frankly I'd much rather have Brian put the toilet seat down, or think of me when he's out and picks me up a little something, even if it's just a pack of gum or an ice cream. That means way more to me than some diamond gift that the media has guilt tripped him into buying. He has bought me diamond earrings and a beautiful and very unique diamond pendant, but never, ever because I goaded him into it.
BUY BUY BUY!!!!! YOU NEED THAT!!! Your significant other/child/parent/aunt/third cousin six times removed NEEDS THIS!!!! Can't live without it!!! SHOP SHOP SHOP! Host the perfect dinner! Decorate the perfect house! Buy the perfect gifts! And let's face it, the absolute last thing any of us need is to incur more debt.....or anymore "stuff". Take a listen to George Carlin's routine, "A Place for My Stuff". It's hilarious. It's true. And I'm just as much to blame. We've reached maximum density in a 4 bedroom house b/c it's so full of "stuff".
Watch all the specials over and over and over again! When I was a kid I couldn't imagine being able to watch Charlie Brown Christmas more than once in a season, much less be able to own it on DVD. If you missed it, you missed it. Now you can watch "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" any time you want, if you own it. "It's a Wonderful Life" in the dog days of summer.
"Carol of the Bells"? Used to be my absolute FAVE carol. Ever since it was used in an Andre Cold Duck ad in the 1970's. Walmart uses it now. So does Garmin GPS. And many others. I think I did a blog post about it's overuse last year, in fact. Well the Carol of the Bells onslaught is upon me again and I'm about to take hostages.
The ad agencies are making me hate Xmas long before the actual date ever arrives. I'm already sick of looking at decorations and hearing the music. It's unfortunate too, because we have a lot of beautiful and very unique ornaments and stuff, and I love to take them out once a year and reminisce about them, but it's just so much damn work and there's always this huge feeling of letdown on December 25th. After the excitement of the morning, the afternoon is always thick and heavy, the night is always subdued. All that buildup, months and months of obnoxious advertising and it's over in 3 hours the morning of the 25th.
Just in time for the after Xmas sales on December 26th...