Opinion: Crowding the holidays

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Commentary by Ward Degler

I had to pick up an item at the store the other day, and as I wound my way past a bin of Halloween candy now listed as a clearance item, I passed an aisle lined with candy canes, Christmas ornaments and other Yuletide offerings.

Mind you, the Halloween candy was still fresh from the trick-or-treat display only a couple of days before. Not only that, but Thanksgiving was still three weeks away and I hadn’t even thought about buying a turkey yet.

I once joked that the effort to get a jump on the seasons would ultimately find us touting Easter goodies in November and Fourth of July fireworks in January. Now, I’m not so sure it’s a joke.

It goes without saying that making a profit is essential to staying in business. But I wonder if it’s necessary to besiege us with merchandise for one holiday before another has even arrived?

There used to be an order to events, a season for all things under the sun as Ecclesiastes proposed. That meant we could expect to see the trappings of Thanksgiving show up only after the Halloween candy was gone. And Christmas carols begin echoing through the streets only after the Thanksgiving turkey leftovers finally disappeared from the fridge.

It used to work that way. Not only that, but school itself never started until the Tuesday after Labor Day. Now the kids are ordered back to the classroom while the family is still in the middle of summer vacation. I wonder if there is that much more for kids to learn these days that they need an extra month to do it.

When I was a kid, school started in September. We got three days off for Thanksgiving and two weeks for Christmas. After that, school days dragged along tediously until the term ended around the first of June.

Something else, somewhere around Thanksgiving the mailman delivered that most sacred of publications – the Christmas Catalog. That gave every kid in the country a month of slowly turning pages, marking special items with a pencil and working up a whole series of creative hints about what they want for Christmas. It was always an exciting time.

But everyone is in a hurry today. The holidays become a blur. And I really miss leisurely thumbing through the Christmas catalog.

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