It's September at Last... Merry Christmas Everyone!

2012, the year of the London Olympics, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and, of course, the year the phrase, “Christmas come early,” stopped meaning anything. It stopped meaning anything because Christmas couldn’t really come any earlier without bumping into the summer holidays.  People may realize how Christmas time seems to arrive a bit sooner every year, but if you work in a shop, as I do, it officially starts several months before winter, and it’s getting bigger.

When I was a kid, Christmas time began at the start of December and ran until a little after New Year. This was the space of time it seemed tasteful to have Christmas lights up and Santa in every advert. But I’ve worked in many stores since I was 17 and have been at my current shop for three years, and I’ve noticed that the marker of December has been pushed back, little by little, year by year. Last year I was bemused that the Christmas Stock went out while Halloween Stock was still on the shelves. This year it’s already out, long before the Halloween Stock even arrived. The first of it was put out the first week of September, officially the end of Summer in my book. So December 25th has now taken over all of Winter AND Autumn, and has nowhere left to invade, especially seeing as Easter Eggs will be on the shelves from January 1st.

The basic thinking is this, “We make a lot of money at Christmas Time. Christmas Time is only about a month or so long. If Christmas was longer, we’d make a lot of money for a longer time. More money is all that matters.”  The only problem is it doesn’t work. If you make Christmas longer, people don’t suddenly have more Christmas money. You won’t make more money; you’ll make the same money over a longer time. Besides, Christmas shopping isn’t fun if you do it in the Summer, just to be prepared. Buying Christmas gifts and decorations is a Christmas-y thing to do. So the majority of the money will be spent at the same time, around December.

You may be thinking, “So what? Christmas is a fun time of year for kids; let them enjoy it for longer.”  Yeah, but no! Do you remember the first Christmas where it didn’t feel like Christmas anymore? The first one that you weren’t really excited, because you realize there’s one of these every year and maybe the Santa thing isn’t as convincing or magical anymore? Most childhood disappointments happen gradually, but that one sneaks up on you, because you only found out in December. That feeling sucked, didn’t it? Well the more Christmas that kids these days are exposed to, the sooner they’ll get bored and go off it, the quicker they’ll grow up. There’s plenty of time for your kids to be cynical, let them enjoy Christmas while their minds still let them.

The problem now is that Christmas has nowhere left to grow. Christmas can’t go into the Summer, because it will melt, so what’s left, Spring? Too late! With Christmas as a role model, Easter grew from one week to invade all of Spring and late Winter, and it can’t be Christmas and Easter at the same time, that would be silly. So what are we to do? Well, my conclusion is thus: If Christmas is expanding then our time scale needs to expand to accommodate it. For as long as Christmas takes up a third of the year, we should only have one Christmas every three years. Or just stop being idiots and wait for December…

Happy Kwanza.

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Comment by Stuart M Rees on September 20, 2012 at 2:24am

Yeah, I know. It's just that "Christmas" is what I grew up calling it. I celebrate it as a cultural thing, not a religious one. People continued to bring pine trees into the house and make wreaths of holly after Christianity hijacked the Solstice, not because it held any ritual significance anymore, but because it was tradition.

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