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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Keeping Christmas creep at bay

Here’s the thing about holiday seasons that seem to start earlier and earlier every year.

A lot of us complain and get all Grinchy about the seemingly unstoppable Christmas creep. But at least some of us must be hypocrites.

Because all sorts of surveys and market research indicate stores are simply delivering what shoppers want: More opportunities to buy holiday provisions.

But let’s suppose you are sincere. Let’s say you really don’t want to be hearing “Feliz Navidad” for three months. Let’s imagine you don’t wish the yuletide retail blitz to commence before you have finished the leftover Halloween candy.

What are you going to do?

Slip into a meditative trance that blocks any mention of reindeer games? Hypnotize yourself to filter out all holly jolly imagery? Hide in a cave? Do your best to ignore it all for the time being?

“My mother would never decorate for Christmas until after my birthday (Dec. 8),” wrote Ellen Sherriffs Hall, a teacher who lives on Spokane’s South Hill.

Jeff Watson, who teaches at Gonzaga University, has similar memories. When he was growing up, the line on the calendar was drawn at his grandfather’s birthday (Dec. 18). Then, years later, the marker became his father-in-law’s birthday (Dec. 13).

People have different reasons for objecting to holiday creep. For some, the seasonal sprawl has the potential to rob us of special excitement associated with a long-ago, more condensed period of celebration. Our connection to those feelings can be emotional and nostalgic.

So the fear is that if you can’t stiff-arm the marketing onslaught, Christmas can seem less of a shooting-star thrill and more like a prolonged siege.

Let heaven and nature sing.

Architect Ann Martin said it helps to have your eyes open about reality.

“This is only my belief, not backed up by scientific research. But 99 percent of the world surrounding us is someone wanting to sell something to us.”

Holiday creep doesn’t attach itself to just Christmas. It doesn’t even have to be linked to a festive celebration.

For instance, Spokane Valley grade school teacher Amber Parviainen has noticed “Back to School” sales seem to begin shortly after classes are dismissed in the spring.

Everything is earlier and earlier.”

Coeur d’Alene resident Helen Rock added her voice to the grumbling chorus.

“I don’t want to see Christmas displays before Halloween, and I don’t want to wade into Christmas merchandise until Thanksgiving is well and truly done.”

She doesn’t always get her wish.

Once, there was much high-profile hand-wringing about the commercialization of Christmas. It was Christianity vs. Madison Avenue, no holds barred.

You can look around and decide for yourself which interpretation of the yuletide prevailed. But perhaps the outcome of that round of culture wars offers a guide for anyone intent on battling Christmas creep.

That is, the overarching societal trend is not apt to change dramatically. So maybe it makes sense to focus instead on options available to the individual.

How do you stave off too-early holiday drum beating?

“I ignore it,” said Patricia Garvin, a South Hill grandmother.

For her, Christmas is and will remain an uplifting religious celebration. Not available in stores.

Hayden Lake’s Debbie Cross recalled that Christmas creep was certainly not a problem during the years she and her husband lived in Saudi Arabia and Sudan. But she noted that’s not a workable solution for everyone.

To be sure, not all of us object to vigorous marketing of holidays. In fact, one gentleman approached via email about this article suggested the very premise sounded sanctimonious.

Elsewhere, North Sider Nola Barrett just wonders if this is a real problem. “So I guess my coping mechanism might be denial.”

Well, perhaps a first-world problem.

But some suggest Christmas creep threatens to tarnish what can be a magical season.

You know, wear you down and leave you numb. Instead of a twinkle in your eye, you might wind up feeling fa-la-la-la whatever.

Cheney resident Zenita Bockstruck said one way to resist is by refusing to allow cheesy merchandising or unending Santafication to define the holiday. She offered a suggestion.

“Volunteer, because it will take your focus off yourself,” she said. “Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, opportunities to serve abound.”

If all else fails, you can always insist that the calendar has traditional meaning, at least in your own life.

“We have a rule that we cannot play any Christmas music, either in the house or in the car, until the day after Thanksgiving,” said Bruce Colquhoun, a retiree/symphony volunteer who lives in Spokane Valley.

That’s when they put on a family favorite Christmas CD (Ray Conniff’s “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”).

“That is the signal to start our Christmas season. Then we can decorate the house, shop for a tree and it is when I start my Christmas shopping.”

Of course, his wife, who plays the cards she’s dealt, does Christmas shopping all year to take advantage of sales.

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