For the fanatically prepared, Halloween starts in August and Thanksgiving menu planning starts right around Labor Day. Hanukkah can be tricky though because it is a moving target, but the well-prepared reveler purchased (or even hand made!) her Hanukkah gifts at least a month ago.
When it comes to family holidays, the boy scouts had it right when they warned, “Be prepared.” For many, that means planning ahead. Good planning reduces stress and creates time. But Thanksgiving Creep, Holiday Creep, or Christmas Creep (we like that alliteration) seem to amplify only the commerce and not the joy of the season.
Christmas Creep sounds like a flasher in a Santa coat. Holiday shopping in early October just feels like an abomination. It is as if something we hold dear is not being given the respect it is rightfully due. Kmart started holiday layaway plan advertisements in September!
A recent article in Slate describes the phenomenon this way:
Christmas creep is so well-established that it has its own Wikipedia entry. It’s been with us since Victorian merchants realized they could boost sales by taking out newspaper ads promoting holiday gift-giving before their competitors thought of it. By the turn of the 20th century, “merchants were berated,” as Paul Collins wrote in Slate in 2013, “for revving up Christmas sales in mid-October.”
More recently, the Washington Post documented the spread of Christmas creep by tracking the arrival of Santa Claus at Bethesda, Maryland’s White Flint Mall over the years. In 1985 the bearded gentleman flew in from the North Pole on Nov. 22, six days before Thanksgiving. By 2008, Santa took his first request on Nov. 14. (http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2015/09/_kmart_ikea_christmas_creep_it_s_becoming_a_year_round_phenomenon.html)
At this rate, Old Saint Nick is going to have to start working on his bikini body!
Certainly early-season holiday shopping has its place and its advocates. For those who stumble upon the perfect thing for Aunt Bee or are just too busy in December, Holiday Creep is a boon. For others it is the Grinch. The holidays are about family; for believers the upcoming religious holidays are deeply significant. Hanukkah and Christmas are about miracles. And even Einstein loved miracles.
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
So when is the right time to start your holiday shopping? Whenever you are so moved! Someone once said, “It is better to give than to receive.” Thoughtfulness to others—loved ones and strangers alike—is always in season. So go ahead! Light the candles! Deck the Halls!
Now we’ve gotta get back to addressing these Valentine’s Day cards.