Commercialism? Humbug!

As I put my skeletons back in the closet (literally) and threw the gnat-infested jack-o-lanterns in the garbage, I was seized by the desire to dig out my ceramic light up Christmas tree and plug it in.

WHAT? Start decorating for the winter holidays before Thanksgiving?  Have I been brainwashed by the evil retail industry? Isn’t it gauche and simple-minded to succumb to the influence of premature in-store displays and television advertising?

But, but… I really want to plug my ceramic Christmas tree in and see the magical glow of its tiny plastic lights.  I don’t care if the kids are still rationing their Halloween candy. I don’t care if I haven’t planned my Thanksgiving side dishes yet.

Christmas is coming soon enough, so should I wait until after Thanksgiving to celebrate just because elitist social commentators say that we are being conditioned by commercialism?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for toning down the Christmas shopping frenzy, which has become replete with obligation and thoughtlessness (a whole other topic) but what’s so bad about celebrating a little early? I say not a thing, and I’ve come up with an impressive list of reasons why:

First: The Sights. Let’s face it — Thanksgiving décor leaves a little something to be desired. This season’s dull browns and golds benefit from a little cheering up with Christmassy cranberry and green.

And who doesn’t like a twinkling light? Unless you have an LED lighted cornucopia or plug in pilgrims with moving parts, you are going to need a few strands of lights and a velvety poinsettia to brighten up your Thanksgiving anyway.

Second: The Tastes. While serving egg nog in November may arguably be taking things too far, turkey and all the trimmings are traditional for both occasions in many households; dishes can be mixed and mingled while respecting the individual holiday customs.

Moreover, I’d bet my Cuisinart that your family won’t protest if you start baking cookies now. Sure, you might gain your holiday weight a little early, but those bulky Christmas sweaters are a great disguise. And besides, the prolonged disgust you will have with your plumpness will give added motivation to stick to your annual New Year’s resolution to lose ten pounds.

Third: The Smells. Indian corn and gourds don’t have much aroma, so unless you are willing to wait to smell the roasting turkey on Thanksgiving day, I suggest baking a little gingerbread or dropping a few cinnamon sticks into your hot toddy. If the tree farms haven’t opened for business, why not light a pine scented candle to awaken the spirit of Christmas?

Fourth: The Sounds. As far as I am aware, there is not a catchy compact disc compilation of Thanksgiving songs by Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Neil Sedaka or Barbara Streisand. The only traditional Thanksgiving song known by most Americans is “Over the River and Through the Woods,” a song adapted from a poem by Lydia Maria Child in 1844.

What most Americans don’t know is that the song actually contains six stanzas of which only the first two are widely known.  In order to get to the line containing the word “Thanksgiving,” one would need to know the last four stanzas which include virtually unknown phrases such as “To have a first-rate play” and “Trot fast, my dapple gray.”  Most of us start out robustly singing the first two stanzas, then trail off mumbling when we can’t recall the rest of the words. Why suffer that non-crescendo when you can all sing a rousing uninterrupted round of “Jingle Bells?”

Other than the sizzle of the roasting turkey pan juices, I think we can all agree that the Thanksgiving sounds could use a little supplementing.  So slip in a good Christmas CD and tap your toes while you cut the veggies for the relish tray.

When it really boils down to it, Thanksgiving and Christmas have become intermingled in such a way that they can no longer be completely separated. So I say to heck with it. 

The real reason we won’t climb into our musty attics or descend into our moldy basements to retrieve our Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving is because someone has said that doing so would mean we were being indoctrinated by the commercial advertising media. Whether it be some snooty social commentator or the advertising media, we are being told what to do any way you look at it.

Phooey! Not to bring Independence Day into this too, but I say hang your stockings and bake your Russian Teacakes when you damned well please.  Besides, would it be so bad to get your shopping done a little early and actually be able to relax when December rolls around?

Today, I plugged my 1972 ceramic tree in and let out a little gasp as the tiny pegs glowed in all the colors of the rainbow. I stared a while, as my brain tapped into a bank of dusty but fond memories of holidays past. “Oh Christmas Tree” popped into my head and I began to hum. Call it gauche, simple minded, brainwashed or indoctrinated. I call it fun.

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Comments: 4

  1. Bellajulia December 6, 2010 at 10:41 am Reply

    I have the same little tree from 1970, but it wont plug in to my 220V here at the house. So it sits on the table, a little sad, but happy just to still have a place in the Christmas decorations after 40 years. She’s old, but man she’s still good at lighting up the room and a little piece of the “kid” heart still in me!

  2. Maz November 28, 2010 at 1:56 am Reply

    Hey Girl, You can plug in one of your ceramic trees every month of the year if you want to since you have a choice of colors and lights that could fit many holidays. Go for it, but make sure that you buy a “live” tree from the base boyscout group.

  3. patrice November 20, 2010 at 12:49 pm Reply

    Really, Lisa – No mention of the egg carton Christmas tree or peanut butter cubes?

    • Lisa Smith Molinari November 20, 2010 at 3:03 pm Reply

      I’d kill for a buckeye “cube” right now, and I really wish I hadn’t thrown that lovely tinsel and green styrophome egg carton Christmas tree away when we moved to England a decade ago…. It was kind of retro, wasn’t it? Maybe I could pick up a new one at Pottery Barn?

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