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tra la la-ing for your fa la las
is it christmas already or does everyone need to settle down?
by heather m. millen
pop culture

On November 2nd at approximately 3:43 PM, I entered the Cary Towne Center shopping mall. I needed to return a Halloween aftertought and compile a short birthday wish list for the upcoming big day. What big day I was not anticipating celebrating was the Big X... Christmas, Noel, Navidad! Why? Because it was two days after Halloween, I was still finding glitter in places it was never intended to be and I very well may have still been drunk. But there, all around me, I couldn't escape it: Christmas had come!

For years, I’ve been what you could call a Thanksgiving Advocate. Nothing Christmasy until after the turkey had been carved and we all woke up from our tryptophan-induced comas. I hesitated for a good many years about any Christmas décor, shopping, cookie baking, card-sending and all other rites of Christmas passage to occur before November ended. Eventually, I compromised with the general public and allowed the Friday after Thanksgiving to kick off the festive season.

And don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas! I love everything about the Christmas season. For the entire month of December, I will be knee-deep in wrapping paper, decking every inch of the hall with my stereo playing an endless stream of holiday music. But November 2nd?! Things had gone too far. I drove through town and there were signs of Christmas everywhere. A wreath on the State Capitol, at the local shopping center, on the front of the NC Democratic Headquarters (okay, we’ll let that slide. Those poor saps could use a little season of joy right about now).

And it wasn’t just in my town. In mid-November, I traveled to LA for a wedding. It was 84 degrees, people were running around in bikinis and there lighting up the pier in my old beach town was a sign proclaiming “Season’s Greetings.”

The local radio station that plays all Christmas songs throughout the season started its run on the 10th of November. By November 20th, every scheduled tree lighting and mall holiday kickoff extravaganza had already occurred. The curtain had dropped on my theatre’s holiday concert by November 21st. Five whole days before Macy’s officially set the holiday season in motion with 10-story balloons and B-rate actors singing Christmas carols. (Hasselhoff, anyone?) The Grinch had already stolen Christmas and it was a whole week before Thanksgiving!

Now, I understand why Mr. Retail Investment Trust would like to get the ball rolling a little early… if the malls could convince you to start Christmas shopping at the fourth of July, they would. “Get your Patriotic Jesus lawn ornament here! Only 174 shopping days left before Christmas!”

I was appalled. I was outraged. Utterly dismayed! Aghast at such impatience. And yet I was… mildly intrigued. Things started happening. Things I couldn’t explain. It started innocently enough. I’ll just pull out my Christmas décor and see what I have. Just so I can plan ahead. And then suddenly, things started popping up. Sparkly red and gold candles where the autumn yellows and browns used to be. A wreath in the living room. How DID that get there?

One day, I was strolling through Target about to make a simple purchase of toilet paper and cleaning products. The Christmas décor was beckoning me. The tune of “We wish you a Merry Christmas” was ringing in my ears. I felt lightheaded. My memory goes dim for a few minutes there, but when I came to, I was standing in the Christmas aisle at the back of the store. My eyes were filled with sparkling visions of pearls and beads, ribbons and bows. Red and green and silver and gold. I had a slight sense of euphoria. The next thing I knew, I was at the cash register and I appeared to be buying a garland. A garland on the 21st of November!? What had become of me?!

Okay, I reasoned. So I bought a little garland. It’s not like I'm going to put it up or anything. Of course, it is going to look lovely on my banister. That reminds me, I need lights for the banister. I wonder if the old strands work… you know how those things get from year to year. I’ll just plug them in and see if they work. Oh, good. At least a couple strands do. Of course, I did go through all of the trouble to drag the lights from the crawlspace in the attic, and you know how dusty that gets. Surely, it doesn’t make sense to put them back away only to break them out again in a week or so. And I’d just leave them out, but the place gets so cluttered, I don’t like having things lying around like that…

But it didn’t stop there. Christmas had started seeping into my entertainment decisions. At the library, I found myself browsing through David Sedaris’ “Holidays on Ice.” I was checking the movie times for Polar Express. I’d be in my car rocking out to the new U2 single and my finger would begin to wander toward the dial. I’d switch ever so quickly to the Christmas station. I just need a little, I’d rationalize. I rolled up my windows to ensure that I wasn’t caught at a redlight and classified by passersby as one of “those people.” In the middle of Madonna’s “Santa Baby,” my cellphone rang and I nearly jumped out of my skin. Quickly, I switched off the offensive melody and fumbled to answer the phone. My brow was damp with perspiration. I could have been caught! It had gone too far. I was an addict.

And so I’ve decided to channel that energy into something productive. A tree-trimming party! Set for mid-December (which is perfectly acceptable timing in all circles to begin celebrating). Of course, I’ll have to plan ahead, you just can’t wing a thing like that. I’m gonna need to go back to Target and choose a design theme. And invitations? Thanksgiving eve isn’t too early to send out holiday cards, is it? Hmmm… what should we have on the menu…

So, Season’s Greetings to each and every one of you. Oh, and happy Thanksgiving. Man… isn’t that over yet?


Heather has a penchant for drama, both personally and professionally. She secretly wishes people spoke in song and wholeheartedly believes that everyone deserves a standing ovation now and again. She finds it appalling that people reserve champagne only for special occasions, when champagne is clearly best on a Tuesday, while riding the subway, accompanying a slice of kick-ass pizza.

more about heather m. millen


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russ carr
11.24.04 @ 2:46p

Target nearest my place had their trees out and up, displaying ornaments and other decor for sale...two weeks before Halloween. I hate it.

jael mchenry
11.24.04 @ 4:09p

Yeah, I think they should at least wait for Halloween. There was a cartoon in the Boston Comic News years ago with the silhouette of a witch flying across the moon... with Santa and his sleigh right on her broomtail. Her thought bubble read: "D@#*&#$ tailgater!"

tracey kelley
11.24.04 @ 4:24p

While I have no problem shopping early for Christmas gifts, because, frankly, it makes my life easier, I hate-hate-hate the over-commericalization of Christmas.


I don't mind decorating, but nothing ever happens before 12/1. And it comes down by 1/1. In fact, this year, we're not putting up the tree, and I will make the dining room the very festive room in the house. But I'm not into decorating the entire house for Christmas. Gak.

robert melos
11.25.04 @ 12:30a

Retailers aside, I really think people are rushing the season because they dislike the current year so much they feel if they rush it out the new year can begin already and life will somehow change and be everything they wish it would be.

I've been bombarded with holiday music from my local radio station to the point I only get in a car if it has a cd player and cds other than holiday music. I also don't really like "traditional" holiday music. My favorite holiday song is the Eagles version of "Please Come Home For Christmas." No "Little Drummer Boy" for me.

This year I gave out the Christmas wrapped candy for Halloween. It was all the store had left at the last minute.

lucy lediaev
11.29.04 @ 7:38p

Last week (mid-November) Nordstrom's had posted signs declaring their intention of not rushing Christmas. I am not sure if it was an apology or a declaration of independence.

heather millen
11.30.04 @ 2:11p

Nordstrom did that last year too. I think they're trying to set themselves apart.

As for decorating the house, Tracey, I'm with you. I love adding festive touches, but people go overboard. I've seen trees in a bathroom before. There's a fine line between festive and creepy.

mike julianelle
12.15.04 @ 2:32p

Hate to break it to you, but you're definitely one of "those people", Heather.

Own it.

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