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Slim Smith: How are we supposed to know it's Christmas?

 

Slim Smith

 

The older I get, the more of a Traditionalist I become and the world becomes an increasingly confusing place. 

 

One by one, I have seen time-honored traditions gone to seed. It is a world without rules, without order. Chaos reigns. 

 

Each day, it seems, another familiar guidepost crumbles. 

 

In the days of my youth, everyone knew when the "Christmas Season" began because everyone was in agreement on when it should begin: 

 

On the fourth Thursday of November, we gathered in family units to give thanks for all that we have received. Then, the next day we went out to get more. 

 

It even had a name: Black Friday. 

 

Although it was not called Black Friday until the 1960s, the day after Thanksgiving was widely observed as the day the Christmas shopping season began.  

 

As a youngster, the stores would operate under normal business hours. This was known as the time that peace ruled the land. 

 

But at some point and for some reason -- my parents usually attributed it to "hippies" -- stores began opening up earlier on the day after Thanksgiving. 

 

A few years ago, when I lived in Arizona, I worked at a bagel shop, which opened at 6 a.m. On this particularly day after Thanksgiving, I arrived at the store at about 5:45 a.m. and noted that there were a couple of dozen customers waiting outside for the store to open. I assumed that they planned to have breakfast at the bagel shop before heading out to shop. 

 

When I asked a few of the customers about this, they let me know I had it all wrong. They had already been shopping and were grabbing breakfast on the way home. This was at 6 a.m., mind you. 

 

Now, some stores aren't even waiting until 12:01 on Black Friday to open. 

 

This year, Kmart will open at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Other stores, including Kohl's, Walmart and Target, will also be open on Thanksgiving, but not before daylight at least. 

 

It is only a matter of time before terms such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday would fall into the world of discarded meaningless phrases. 

 

Thursday, merchants in Columbus kicked off their annual four-day Downtown Christmas Open House, a full three weeks before Thanksgiving.  

 

I find this very disturbing because I am very much in favor of sequence. One thing should follow another. I do not believe that Christmas decorations should be found in the aisle next to the Halloween costumes.  

 

What to make of this new world, when radio stations are left to their own devices in determining when to start with the incessant and extremely limited play-list of Christmas songs? It was bad enough, when you heard "White Christmas" or "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" about a dozen times a day for the 30 or so days between Black Friday and Christmas Day. 

 

Now? There since there is no starting place, there are no limitations and, most likely, no restraint. This is a very dangerous thing, I fear. Studies indicate that a person exposed to repeated daily playings of "I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas" for 40 or 50 straight days are 10-times more likely to commit mass murder than your average disgruntled postal worker, who had always been pretty quiet, but did mostly keep to himself now that we think about it. 

 

I would hope that radio stations would be mindful of the grave power they hold in their hands and resist the premature urge to queue up "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" for the benefit of humankind. That's probably too much to ask, though. 

 

Beyond the possible negative effects of prolonged exposure to Bing Crosby, there are other dangers associated with this undefined Christmas Season. 

 

Among Christians, this is particularly problematic. Each year, Christians wait for this most joyous season for a change to poke out their bottom lips, wrinkle their brows and complain bitterly about the War on Christmas whenever they are exposed to the phrase, "Happy Holidays!" 

 

But with no recognized start, it is impossible to know when Christians can commence with their "War on Christmas" Facebook campaigns.  

 

I look back with great fondness on the days of Black Friday and mourn the anarchy that has taken its place. 

 

I still fervently believe we should know when the Christmas Season has started, so that everyone gets an equal shot at the ensuing mayhem. 

 

So let me just offer up a heart-felt Happy Holidays to you all. 

 

That oughta do the trick. 

 

 

 

 

Slim Smith is managing editor of The Dispatch. His email address is ssmith@cdispatch.com.

 

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