Christmas Starts After Thanksgiving, Dammit!

­Santa PumpkinI saw my first Christmas commercial ten days before Halloween this year.

Well, okay technically it wasn’t a “Christmas” commercial. It was a “holiday” commercial with lots of red and green decorations, decorated fir trees in the house, snow on windows, stockings over fireplaces, presents, squealing children, Menorahs near the ham . . . but, you know, it wasn’t a denominational thing at all.

Let me just go on record with this: I believe that the Christmas season doesn’t start until after Thanksgiving. End of story.

pumpkinApparently it is vital that the holiday shopping message gets out as soon as possible. You know, to give us time to remember that Christmas is coming. ‘Cause we are very forgetful. What’s that holiday at the end of the year?   You know, the one before New Years? Never mind that my youngest has an app that tells her exactly how long until Christmas to the hour and second; an app that has been in use since February.

It wasn’t always this way. In the olden days, back when we used to watch commercials on wood-burning televisions, Santa never made an appearance until the last of the leftover Thanksgiving turkey had been recycled into some sort of burrito or mysterious breakfast hash.

But as time went by, Madison Avenue convinced Main Street to advertise earlier and earlier. Oh, I understand why. They are scared to death because now we DVR everything, binge watch our favorite shows on our phones, and scan right past the commercials, so only the heartiest of ads can sneak through.

cartoon SantaWhen I was growing up, my Mom explained to my brother and me that Santa didn’t believe in giving gifts that we might have seen advertised on TV. Now this was long before your Facebook post could be turned into an ad without your permission. This was pre-internet. You know, when talking dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and we powered our cars with our feet.

No matter how much we wanted the Hot Wheels Automated City With Sig-Alert Action Track, or the Slimy Icky Growing Goop with Actual Live Bugs, or even the G.I. Joe Mechanized Tank With Real Exploding Artillery Shells . . . Santa never brought them. Even if we were good.

So Christmas morning was always an adventure, because we never quite knew what would be under the tree. Run, run, run . . . giggle, giggle, giggle. “Hey Ward, what did you get?” “I got a complete set of Make Your Own Lunch Brown Paper Bags, how about you?” “I got an Imagination Block.” “It looks like a piece of wood.” “Yeah, well . . . does not!” “Does too!”

The thing is, no matter how early the commercials start, we will still show our basic humanity by waiting until the last minute to shop, scorning those irritants who gleefully announce that they finished their Christmas shopping on the fifth of July.

bread rollsFamilies all over the country will still enter into fierce negotiations over who is going where and bringing what for the Holidays. “Why do we have to have Christmas in Los Angeles? Why can’t we have it up here?” “Because all of us live in L.A., and you’re the only one in Fresno!” “I’m not coming if Jack is still dating that crack ho!” “You’re coming all right, ’cause you’re bringing the rolls, dammit!”

The stress level will ratchet up enough to make me buy eggnog and bourbon in bulk.

eggnog cocktailBut at some point, late in December, long after all the presents have been opened, when all the people banished from my kitchen on Christmas night have been allowed to return, when the pies have been properly “evened out,” and everyone is sitting around drinking wine, laughing and enjoying each other’s stories . . . well, that’s when I truly appreciate the holidays, no matter when the season starts.

Just like in the olden days.


This article has appeared on and This I Believe on NPR

8 thoughts on “Christmas Starts After Thanksgiving, Dammit!

  1. “…..the olden days, back when we used to watch commercials on wood-burning televisions,” HAHAHA! And not only that, but you actually had to get up to change the channel! When I try and explain that to my son, he just stares blankly at me. Yet while he may feign indifference to the past, he does have his Christmas list ready, with all the modern gizmos a 16 YO would want. Thank God he left off the Apple Watch, since the laptop and the car he wants pretty much takes the entire rest of the family out of the ball park for gifts. And to think, all this started with a K-mart commercial in late September before the flipping leaves even started to fall. I’m going to try really hard this year to not let Christmas make me grumpy. Where’s the green apple vodka?

  2. First of all, those of us with a mid- to late-December birthday sympathize with you not one little bit. Our desires have been doused every year since birth with all the grace and efficiency of a peed-out campfire, so put away your rant, we’ve got three.

    One, the obvious Birthday-Present-Christmas-Present-Combined crap, which only really works in our favor when we’re finally old enough to demand something sizable in barter for another year of non-delinquency, like cars, televisions, and…well, there’s not much else to do in the Midwest that you can put down on a gift list that Grandma will read.

    Two, nobody comes to your birthday party because they’ve all been shuttled across the continent to relatives for the holidays. No amount of door prizes or theme party promises will alter this scenario. And, trust me, an ice skating party with just your parents and one annoying sibling all sitting on the bleachers, holding neverending cups of hot chocolate to their chests while you twirl around down on the rink for 40 minutes is NOT something to cut out and put in the scrapbook.

    Three, I had a real humdinger of a point but I’ve become distracted by your idea of buying bourbon in bulk and now I’m fantasizing about being Elliot Ness in reverse, tucking a wooden crate of Medicinal Purposes under the crawl space with an oil tarp over it. Because December is right around the corner and Happy Fucking Birthday to me.

      • Holy crap, I bow to the master. I’m only the 18th but it still sucks a snowman’s balls, don’t it?

        Some day I will have an impressive cocktail bar in my home, brass and oak and three shelves high, a rummy’s apothecary. Not for the conspicuous consumption of wealth but because I’m sick of looking up delicious concoctions on the internet that make my tongue twirl and my liver throb and then sitting back and saying, “Wait a minute, can you make that with just Monopolowa and orange juice?”

  3. Second of all, you’re right, the holidays seem to be stuck together like mating dogs in an alley. Somebody really should get the hose.

    They put out Christmas decor AT THE SAME TIME as the Halloween candy this year. I experienced some sort of schizoid break in Aisle 12 and seriously pondered decorating the tree with mini Snickers and giving out multicolored replacement twinkle lights to trick-or-treaters. I’m still not convinced it’s a bad idea.

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