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What the Skeptics Don't Get About Thanksgiving and Christmas

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Posted 11-20-2010 at 12:13 AM by Jeff Westover

Jim Early starts to hang his Christmas lights in September. He turns them on the night after Halloween. And without fail every year the reactions are the same. Neighbors on all sides of him gather for the lighting ceremony, as they have for years in the sleepy Northern California town of Grass Valley. But just as the jolly traditions of Santa, elves, eggnog and stockings are a tradition of the season so too are some Scrooge-like traditions that just have to come up every year.

“There is a guy on a local radio station who picks the day after Halloween every year to complain about the creep of Christmas,” Jim says. “He doesn’t want to see decoration for sale in the stores, he can’t stand to hear Christmas music on the radio in November and he picks on me every year for firing up my Christmas display right after Halloween. It has become tradition.”
He’s right.

There is a preponderance of folks all over who detest the early manifestations of the season.

In Kansas City a radio station has launched a yearly campaign to “Save Thanksgiving” – check out savethanksgiving.com – a serious effort to build a coalition against the early celebration of Christmas that they feel overshadows Thanksgiving and Veteran’s Day.

In Ogden, Utah a local newspaper columnist has a reputation for his yearly rant against “Christmas creep”. This year he waved the white flag.

"I could have easily forgiven the retailers for their eagerness. After all, they're only out to make money, and if you believe the statistics, stores net something like 40 percent of their yearly take during the holidays. It only makes sense they'd want to extend the seasonal shopping frenzy as long as humanly possible. And, I suppose, the radio stations figured they were just giving listeners what they wanted. Plus, it's a fairly simple thing to avoid these stations if you want to; that's why they make preset buttons on car radios. But I couldn't forgive my fellow human beings, many of whom are already decking their halls in earnest. It has become painfully obvious to me that the traditional line in the sand -- waiting until after Thanksgiving Day to start your Christmas celebrations -- no longer works for the majority of Americans.”

(We’re particularly proud of this story as he mentions the “crazy Rudolph Day women” who buried him in Christmas cards in October last year. Those are some of the ladies of MagicalHolidayHome.com, our sister forum. Great job, Ladies!).

In fact, all over the Internet you can find through Google plenty of rants about the early celebration of Christmas. Almost universally they point out the “corporate influence” of Christmas and the “gross commercialization” of the season that ultimately “breeds greed into the hearts of stocking-hangers” across America.

Why oh why, they cry, can’t we just celebrate Thanksgiving first?

How can I, a man who runs a 365-day-a-year Christmas empire on the Internet, answer this without being biased?

Well, I can’t.

But I have to point out the obvious: what these well-intentioned and misguided folks do not get – and that most of us here do – is that the celebration of Christmas is never measured by those things they are watching.

Have they ever read Dr. Seuss?

It really is as simple as that. Christmas isn’t about stuff – no matter what that stuff is -- lights, decorations, music on the radio or snowballs in July.

Oh sure, we have fun with all that stuff. We love to talk Christmas year round. We love to count the days. We love the anticipation that comes with Fall.

Some of us decorate early and leave those decorations up late. Some of us – gasp! – send Christmas cards out in July.

A few of us idiots work in Christmas mode year round – writing stories, building websites, crafting radio shows, doing research and planning every little thing for the short season ahead.

Some of us get into Christmas planning. Some grow whiskers starting in June to be ready to play Santa come December. Some of us build complex lighting systems while baseball still plays on the radio and we plan, down to the very last bulb, dazzling displays of Christmas that just have to be better than last year.

Some of us watch Christmas movies year round. Some of us actually listen to the year round Christmas radio stations.

And you know what? Along the way we celebrate Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Halloween and, yes, Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving, too.

In fact, what I want those yahoos on the radio in Kansas City to know especially is that Thanksgiving doesn’t get overlooked in our year round celebration of Christmas. In fact, it gets elevated. It gets showcased. It gets sacred honor and respect.

We love Thanksgiving. It is the appropriate opening to the real season of Christmas. It is with gratitude that we hang our lights, make our plans, watch our movies and, yes, shop in our stores for Christmas.

We believe that Thanksgiving DOESN’T get the respect it deserves but that doesn’t come from the Christmas crowd.

Thanksgiving is a part of Christmas and Christmas is a part of Thanksgiving. Don’t blame Christmas for the lack of respect they perceive for Thanksgiving out there.

They just don’t get it and they never will. And that’s because Christmas is deeper than they’re thinking it. It doesn’t deserve to be celebrated early. It SHOULD be celebrated year round. Take it from a guy who works in Christmas year round.

We just want a little respect.
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