By Dan St. Yves

Despite my staunch refusals to cave in to peer pressure year after year, I finally conceded defeat about a week or so ago. I turned on our exterior Christmas/Annual Festive Holiday/Seasonal Affective Lighting about a week ago. Hey, there’s a few orange ones up there to include Halloween!

I had hoped to wait until at least Dec. 1, but every other home on the street had already begun flaunting their displays. I may as well have slapped up a giant flashing billboard on my own roof, broadcasting, “The Grinch lives here”. Who am I trying to kid by not getting on the early Noel bandwagon as well?



The writing was on the wall well before November though. Most big box stores were quietly piling up Christmas decorations along the walls while they were putting out Halloween decorations on the main display shelves. Some shameless retailers even started to tout their plastic reindeer and elves in plain view of shoppers, while fellow staff members were pasting “Back to School” banners around the sales floor. Pretty soon, you won’t have images of carefree youngsters in shorts tossing frisbees at the beach in August, it’ll be old Saint Nick, with a wink and a little button on his red muscle shirt, advising shoppers “not to forget Dec. 25 – it’s coming faster than you think!”

The worst offenders, Walmart and Costco, had full-blown Christmas displays up before the end of September. I think they stacked those right on top of the adorable but flattened toy Easter bunnies.

Of course, the retail trending for the holiday season has always had a firm root in early urgency for shoppers. How many of us have purchased decorations and deep-discounted consumer products on Boxing Day? Or even around a week after Christmas, when the Nutcracker dolls look like they’ve been having fistfights after the store has closed, clashing over who was going to take Barbie to the New Year’s Eve bash at the Stardust Ballroom?

I don’t know about you, but if I ever hear It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas in The Bay around mid-July, I won’t know whether to drive up to the North Pole or The Canadian Retailers’ Association, but I do know that someone will have some explaining to do. Is it asking too much to at least have the leaves start turning brown before we ramp up the media outlets to promote Christmas?

I have been receiving your seductive messages, universe – and have started to leave the newspaper ads scattered around my wife’s favourite wing chair. Perhaps it’s not too early to start leaving subliminal and helpful hints if I hope to see that iPad Pro under the tree come Dec 25.

Until then, despite knowing how appealing a home decorated for the holidays is to potential buyers, I’ll just continue to complain to anyone willing to listen about how early retailers get into the holiday spirit.

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  • Carolyne in Canada

    Hi Dan,

    A not so subtle message that would be nice to leave laying on the roof with the hot dog Santa, a giant balloon that simply says: “MERRY CHRISTMAS,” again, like the old days here in Canada.

    And train cash register staff how important it is to say, “Merry Christmas” to the customers whose purchases help to keep the store open and pay their own personal regular paycheques. Aka, the current coast to coast demise situation at Sears.

    People stop shopping where they know that they and their purchasing power are not appreciated. That writing was on the wall for a few years in the making.

    A couple of years back, at the (early) beginning of the “Christmas season,” and I happened to be in a store I regularly shopped at, softly in the background music was playing. Such a beautiful relaxing sound: “Joy to the World” was playing, followed by “The First Noël,” and then “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem,” then “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” and yes, the cash out clerk said: “Merry Christmas!” Hadn’t experienced this in several years. It was shocking. Like going back in time. Another time and another place.

    I went into the store again a couple of weeks later and Jingle Bells, and other lighthearted nice music was playing. I commented and said: “What happened to the Christmas carols,” and was told: “Head office found out and our manager was told he couldn’t play ‘Christmas carols’.” Only generic seasonal music, and they had been told they were not allowed to say “Merry Christmas;” nothing except generic thank you at the cash register. Some customers had been offended and had complained. Others loved the reminiscent carols.

    Customer feedback being as important as it is, I had told her to “thank management for initially trying.” It had made a sad day so much better. She said lots of people were saying that and she seemed sort of surprised, with a perplexed look.

    She was quite young and perhaps didn’t remember when those glittering trees were called “Christmas trees” not government holiday bushes, and people had “Christmas parties,” not seasonal celebration get togethers, and installed “Christmas lights,” after Armistice Day, and only know the giving rise to the season’s greetings celebrating and promoting of only “Jingle Bells.”

    Wonder what would happen if buyers boycotted stores that didn’t say a seasonal “Merry Christmas.” Maybe there aren’t enough of us to matter. Of course that would be a new old concept and might require a whole new marketing program in order to reintroduce “Christmas.”

    Not being political, but I can’t help but remember the joy I felt last Christmas season when I turned on CNN, and across the podium where Donald Trump was speaking, there was a huge string of large red letters attached, saying: “MERRY CHRISTMAS.” Wonder if that will dominate this year, stateside. I have a friend in San Diego who says she misses “Christmas trees” and “Christmas lights” blinking, on storefronts and houses there, too. Says they are hardly ever seen anymore.

    Maybe it speaks to being old. It’s easy to remember a bank advertising message from a few years ago: “The world, she is a-changin’…” and it has nothing to do with being a multi-cultural country.

    When we travel to other countries we must observe and respect their ways. In Canada we must give up prior ways and methods to accommodate newcomers in order that we make them comfortable. Doesn’t seem right somehow. There should be room for all, us included.

    Apparently Sally-Ann can’t do their thing in many areas anymore, either, ringing their bells, and of course their saying “Merry Christmas” is not politically correct.

    Well, well, well… How timely; in tonight’s news clips: (doesn’t say what preceded the preamble):
    http://www.ctvnews.ca/mobile/video?playlistId=1.3633494

    Carolyne L 🍁

    • Dan St.Yves

      It is a conundrum for sure, not sure who decided what is politically correct and what is not. I for one have always suggested a wide variety of greetings at that time of year, including Merry Christmas.

      I just have a problem when it starts in September….