I used to count myself among the multitudes of holiday scrooges who are repulsed by the abrupt takeover of Christmas by commercial elements, who if they had their way would move Black Friday to the 5th of July. Recently, however I have had a change of heart.
I have come to realize the best part of the holiday season is the ability to justify that ever-nagging desire to shop all the time. But what constitutes the “holiday season?” Christmas? New Years? Hanukkah? Is Thanksgiving included? All I know is that according to the retail world, the holiday season begins the day after Halloween.
When Nov. 1 rolls around, to the agitation of many, out goes the orange and black as stores everywhere are quickly enveloped in the familiar, nostalgic red and white that is generically applied to winter holidays. Starbucks breaks out those well-known red cups, Bob’s first shipment of trees arrives in the Safeway parking lot, and at night streets are lined by sparkling trees decked out in the holiday’s finest lights. Every year, these events are my cue to start shopping.
The holidays don’t just mean one shopping trip; they require many. First comes the initial browsing trip when you get to start formulating your holiday wish list. Then there is the Black Friday shopping spree, in which you can defend your additional purchases with the beautifully low prices. Throughout December, you dedicate your time to shopping for presents for family and friends (purely out of the goodness of you heart of course). Finally all this shopping is concluded with Boxing day, where you can spend all the money you just received from that distant aunt who never knows what else to get you. Since these are not just ordinary shopping trips, planned according to convenience, holiday shopping inevitably turns into elaborate sojourns to the city or other well-planned destinations.
Since it is November and the best part of the holidays (numerous school vacations) has begun, my first shopping excursion to San Francisco has been completed. This year, however, I have had an epiphany: the early emergence of holiday decorations is probably the best gift the world could give me. An excuse to start rocking the Christmas music, wearing cozy holiday sweaters, sitting by a fire drinking warm winter beverages; who could ask for anything better?
The commercial world’s decision to get a head start on holiday profits gives the rest of us permission to walk through Union Square, admiring the gigantic tree, Macy’s iconic window wreaths, and the delicious smell of street vendors roasting hazelnuts, while happy shoppers ice skate in the sunny, 60 degree weather. Of course they ignore the weather, dressed in their holiday best as though it were snowing.
As I have said, I used to fight the early onset of the Christmas season, but I no longer see the point. As Christmas is undeniably my favorite holiday, why have I been so opposed to a couple extra weeks to enjoy it? Instead of spending those weeks mocking the jolly Santa Claus faces that begin to appear along with Tom the Turkey and pilgrim hats, why not let them brighten the continually darkening days?