With Thanksgiving a few days away, Americans have been entrenched in their favorite holiday tradition for at least three or four weeks now: bitching about the so-called “Christmas creep:” the practice of retailers bypassing Halloween and Thanksgiving by displaying Christmas decorations before kids even decide on a Halloween costume. Perhaps that’s hyperbole, but it’s true this Christmas creep takes up residence long before Thanksgiving. Satellite radio and terrestrial radio already play Christmas music. The TV commercials are already in rotation and, yes, decorations are up at retail stores. Worse yet, Black Friday (an annoying, obnoxious term) is starting earlier and earlier. Some stores will be holding Thanksgiving Day hours, no less.
The truth is, though, these arguments and complaints are as much an annual tradition as Christmas itself. As long as I can remember, Americans have complained about over-commercializing Christmas. Those who complain must realize we are our own worst enemies. Black Friday wouldn’t be Black Friday if people stayed home instead of rushing out to shop in the wee hours.
I’ll admit it feels like it’s gotten worse. When I see news footage of grown men and women storming through the doors of a big-box store like they’re invading Omaha Beach makes my head hurt. It’s just unseemly for people to be in such a rush to just buy stuff. But that’s just me. But consumerism isn’t what’s gotten worse about Christmas season. The weird, zombie-like culture of fanaticism of Black Friday is what’s gotten more ubiquitous. It used to be enough to hit the shopping mall once or twice ahead of Christmas. But now, it’s Black Friday! And you have to camp out in a cold, dark parking lot the night before so you don’t miss it!
It’s this same fanaticism that takes otherwise typical fans of a sports team and transforms them into SUPAH-FANS! You have to wear the jersey, buy the program, live, eat and breathe the team. Same goes for concertgoers and moviegoers who aren’t real fans if they don’t sport a costume just to see a show. That’s what’s happened to Christmas.
Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, but I feel like we’ve reached a bit of a tipping point this year. The Black Friday backlash has grown the past few years to the point that it’s even gotten branded as its own movement: Small Business Saturday.
Only time will tell if my wish comes true. In the meantime, I’ll be missing Black Friday and Small Business Saturday in favor of Leave Me The Hell Alone Weekend.