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Embracing holi-delays

SUNDAY, SEPT. 18, 2011

The marketing of Halloween and Christmas starts now, so it’s up to us to resist the urge

There wasn’t a surrender ceremony.

But you know that cultural conflict between commerce and the mostly lip-service yearning to keep ever-expanding holiday “seasons” from scraping away the calendar’s integrity like relentless glaciers?

Well, the war is over. The good guys lost.

Halloween, once a quirky, little kids-focused frolic, has metastasized into an overgrown monstrosity that lurches onto the scene around Labor Day.

And Christmas, well, I don’t need to tell you.

“That’s always been a pet peeve of mine,” said Matt Galloway, international sales manager for a maker of scientific instruments in Pullman.

He sees the ultra-early displays in stores and shakes his head. He is not alone.

The score with time running out is Holiday Marketing 56, Seasonal Restraint 3.

But what if you have had enough? What if, even while acknowledging that you can’t single-handedly reverse the societal trend, you declare a desire to personally resist holiday creep?

That might be easier said than done. Unless you are prepared to unplug your TV and stop going into stores, the selling of mega-holidays is certain to engulf you.

Still, there are options. It’s not inevitable that you will get sucked in.

“One of the best ways to avoid the early start of the season is to buy next year’s presents during the post-Christmas sales and stow them away,” said Ritzville’s Dale Anderson, member services director for Big Bend Electric Co-op.

That way you can steel yourself to avert your gaze from the arguably premature sales, et cetera.

Alyssa St. Clair, a concierge in Spokane, is another who sometimes does her Christmas shopping in January.

“That way I am not tempted to shop in September when they roll out the Christmas trees and decoration,” she said.

But she has a confession to make. “I secretly listen to Christmas music after Halloween.”

Maybe this is the right moment to remind ourselves of American reality. Money talks.

It doesn’t really make sense to beat up on stores for getting earlier and earlier jumps on various festive seasons. Retailers wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t good for the bottom line. And making a profit is, after all, why they are in business.

Don’t like seeing Halloween candy on display before the autumnal equinox? Don’t buy any.

Resent the appearance of yule trappings within days of back-to-school sales? Your course of action seems obvious.

Clearly, though, someone is making early purchases of Halloween and Christmas stuff. Moreover, there are plenty of people who can’t get enough of the steroidal holidays. They rejoice in the opportunity to soak up even an ersatz celebratory vibe for weeks and weeks. And weeks.

So if you approach staving off holiday creep as a moral crusade, you probably shouldn’t count on everyone grabbing torches and pitchforks and falling into step behind you.

But what if you think of it as a personal protest or a search for meaning? Maybe you could see it as something you are going to do just for yourself and your sense of what’s right and what’s genuine.

The holiday tsunami is coming. No sense denying it.

Perhaps, though, it’s possible to tune out a lot of the static.

Have you ever worked near someone who almost never shut up? Constructive confrontation sometimes helps address the problem. But often the choices come down to either being silently annoyed every day or learning to filter out the jabbering.

Maybe resisting holiday overkill is like the latter. It’s there in front of you, but with a little practice you can manage to block it out.

No one even has to know you’re doing it.

For children, though, it might be more difficult to keep it all at arm’s length.

Diane Martinson, a teller at a North Idaho credit union branch, saw Christmas decorations for sale in August.

“I just had a feeling of sadness that they have to start it so early,” she said. “I believe it ruins the anticipation for kids. When they see Christmas stuff four months in advance, it seems to me that it has to dampen everything that made Christmas magical and wonderful.”

But maybe at least some children, the ones with critical thinking skills, understand what’s going on.

We’re all presented with several competing visions of the holidays.

Nothing says we have to buy the first one we see.

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