Wednesday 07 Dec 2016

Ever-earlier Holidays
Matt Seinberg

I must give props to fellow-columnist Jennifer Flaten. She took the words right out of my mouth. She wrote that Halloween is now the beginning of the Holiday Season.

She was very proud that her kids collected over 11 pounds of candy. My daughters, Melissa and Michelle, collected almost 40 pounds. When Marcy, my wife, told me that, I was stunned; we live in New York, not Texas.

Marcy threw out what she considers the "bad" candy. She kept only the chocolate and other good stuff. I think we were all ready to hit that sugar high.

Reality once again set in a few days later, when my blood tests came back from the lab from my yearly physical, and lo and behold, my sugar levels were a little high. I almost wanted to remind the nurse that Halloween just passed, but decided not to. It would seem a little silly for a man of my age to use Halloween as an excuse.

Do you remember when radio stations started to play Christmas music on Thanksgiving Day? Now the early birds really want to get the audience worms by starting after Halloween. Holy moly, Batman. Can we take the same old holiday songs for two full months? I refuse to listen to any station that plays holiday music simply for the reason that I don't like it.

Now, to force it upon the entire audience in the hope of getting higher ratings for a longer time might be good business, but it's for sure that a good portion of your audience is going to turn it off and never come back. Then there are the people who love holiday music, and will turn it on, and never leave. Which group is larger, I wonder?

Also after Halloween are the stores that start to decorating for the holidays, not only Thanksgiving, but Christmas, too. The holiday season generates about 20-to-25% of annual retail sales. This can make or break not only a large chain, but the independent owner as well. My guess is that if they start to advertise and decorate earlier, the person who likes to get their shopping done early will shop earlier, too.

There are many sites that leak Black Friday ads early to a dedicated following of shoppers through email. I get at least one email a day alerting me to what stores are going to have on sale, and for how much. This is not only for brick and mortar stores, but online as well. For the person who loves to shop and get a bargain, this is a sure way to do it.

As much as I like to plan, I hate to shop. We don't make a big deal out of the season as we did when the kids were little. If I find a gift, which I know the kids or my wife will enjoy, I buy it and hold it until the holidays.

I've worked in malls during the holiday season, and let me tell you, it was not a pleasant experience. People are supposed to be happy and jolly during the holiday season, but let me say this from firsthand experience: it's not true.

Most people are irritable, rude and downright annoying. No one likes to wait in long lines to get into the store, much less wait on another line to get that choice gift, and then wait on another line to pay for it. The looks on people's faces that I've seen are scary. They could scare Freddy Kruger or Michael Myers back to wherever they come from.

Don't get in the way of the parent who must have that special gift for their little angel. You risk losing a limb if you get in their way. I've seen it happen, and it's not a pretty site.

Then the truly fun part happens, getting out of the mall parking lot or garage. That can take as much time as finding the spot you were in. Customers have it easier than do mall employees. Customers can park wherever they want; even use valet parking. Employees have to park in the far reaches of the lot, and trudge through snow and rain, or if the mall has a garage and not a lot, on the very top level. I did this one year, and it took me at least an hour to get out. That's how long the ride home takes.

Do we even want to talk about the car accidents that happen at the mall? Nope. Been there, done that. It would be funny to see the Grinch sleigh jack Santa though and fly into the night laughing all the way though. Did I hear someone whisper, "Where is Ebenezer Scrooge?"

My advice for this holiday season is simple. Shop early, and shop online if you care to, and be nice to everyone. It takes less facial muscles to smile than to frown. If you have to have unpleasant thoughts, just say a few "Bah Humbugs" and you'll feel better. Trust me that it works.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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