Let the holiday onslaught begin | PostIndependent.com

Let the holiday onslaught begin

It’s now November and I’m left scratching my head wondering where the time went.

As I write this, our first taste of winter weather is moving across the region with more to follow. While this is welcome news to skiers and those who prefer winter over warmer seasons (the clinically insane), it’s a terrifying reality for a Midwestern guy who still vividly remembers the six-hour, white-knuckle drive from Denver to Salida last February. Suffice to say I will be investing in snow tires in the not so distant future.

With October in the books, there is another seasonal sensation moving in: the onslaught of holiday madness. While it is admittedly not as terrifying as whiteout conditions, and I notice it less and less, the proliferation of one day into several months of advertisements and displays is incredibly nauseating. And it’s already here.

I noticed it last Friday at City Market, where in my mad rush to grab candy and a terrifying gorilla mask — I did not realize how terrifying it was until several small children screamed at the site of a monkey man taking photos during the parade that day — I looked up to see Christmas items creeping down the aisle like a red-and-green beast slowly devouring what was left of the Halloween decorations. (Earlier this week, I heard from several people that the decorations are already out at Wal-Mart.)

It took me by surprise, although I’m not sure why. This is not a new phenomenon. The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania published a piece on “Christmas creep” in March of 2006. While it mostly focused on various marketing experts’ opinions on the advantages and disadvantages to retailers, Wharton marketing professor Stephen Hoch concluded with what I would call a grim forecast.

“I don’t think we’ll see a retreat on this one. Comping [comparing this year’s sales to the same period last year] is a self-fulfilling prophecy. That will keep on driving this Christmas creep,” Hoch was quoted as saying.

Growing up, my mother would start putting up Christmas decorations around this same time. Part of it was out of necessity: There were simply too many garlands and lights to properly put up in less than a month. We’d unearth the boxes and boxes of decorations in the basement and bring them upstairs, transforming the typically tidy living room into that of a hoarder.

Of course, the other part of the equation was that my mother did, and still does, enjoy it.

Luckily, we managed to keep her from erecting the Christmas tree until after Thanksgiving — the day after Thanksgiving.

For decades, the day after Thanksgiving — I will not say its name — served as the official start of the holiday madness for retailers. My mother, the same one who festoons the house with decorations in early November, still remembers being a young girl and having a woman snatch an article of clothing from her hands that day.

Now, we watch stampedes of raving mad shoppers trample one another on the evening news, just hours after most of us finish stuffing our faces on Thanksgiving. With more and more retailers moving the grand sales from the day after Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving day, I found it refreshing to hear retailer REI was closing its doors the day after Thanksgiving, instead encouraging customers to spend the day outside.

And according to a list compiled by The Christian Science Monitor, businesses including Costco, Home Depot and others are staying closed Thanksgiving day.

While a Forbes story on REI’s decision stated it “could be among the smartest marketing moves we see among retailers this holiday season,” I welcome it.

I don’t shop at REI, and one store or many stores limiting operations around Thanksgiving really does nothing to stem the tide of holiday crap already in our faces. But it is something and in the age of continual creep, something is about all we can truly ask for.

Ryan Hoffman is editor of The Citizen Telegram. He can be reached at 970-685-2103 or rhoffman@citizentelegram.com.

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