First Person: Overdoing Christmas

Please retailers, let us have fall first

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Last year I bought my sister’s Christmas present in August.

I found the perfect gift, a wind spinner in the shape of a purple fire-breathing dragon, driving a convertible. My sister likes goofy lawn ornaments and it would be difficult to find anything goofier than a purple fire-breathing dragon in a convertible.

I suppose, if I’d waited until November, I would have found one on Amazon or eBay. I’m pretty sure those people on cable television who go looking for mermaids, sasquatches and mothmen could find them on Amazon or eBay. But I didn’t feel like looking through a couple hundred other wind spinners to find a purple dragon in a convertible, and there are the shipping costs to consider.

Anyway, the point of this story is that I bought my sister what turned out to be a perfect Christmas gift, in August, without looking at a single holiday decoration.

Which is why I wish retailers would stop putting their Christmas stuff out in October.

October is October. I want to spend it thinking of October things — planting bulbs, raking leaves, carving pumpkins, finding a couple new pairs of warm socks.

I do not want to spend it thinking of December. I want to put off thinking of snow shovels, ice melter, Christmas baking and getting all those boxes to the post office, as long as I can.

I want to enjoy fall as fall, not as a prelude to the madness that is the holidays.

I give a thought, now and then, to Christmas in the fall. I knit. It’s wise, if you’re knitting somebody a Christmas gift, to give yourself more time than you think you need.

But I don’t need displays of wreaths or wrapping paper to remind me.

I have a bunch of gifts for people in my closet. I found one of them in April. I wasn’t thinking of Christmas that morning. I was thinking it was a miserable day for a flea market. Then I was thinking, what a really great price for something like that, and brand new! Then I thought of a friend who would love it. Now it’s in my big closet, waiting for December, along with a whole lot of other stuff I’ve picked up during the year without hearing a carol or looking at a guy in a Santa suit.

But retailers bring their Christmas stuff out earlier every year.

I understand. Times are hard. They want to get a jump on the biggest shopping season of the year.

I wonder if they understand that most people don’t like it.

All that red and green seems horribly out of place amid the autumn colors. I wish retailers would let us enjoy the brown and gold for a few more weeks before bringing out their Christmas sparkle. But I know they won’t.

More than two weeks before Light Up Night, the Christmas ads were already invading my mail box. Dollar Tree has had its Christmas stuff up since September. Kmart was filling shelves with Santas a week before Halloween.

By the time December rolls around, a lot of this stuff will begin to look shabby. Now that Christmas season is really beginning, we’re already tired of looking at it.

In the depths of the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt tried to move Thanksgiving back a week to give the Christmas shopping season a boost.

The nation objected. Thanksgiving remains the fourth Thursday in November, and the Christmas shopping season used to begin the day after.

I still don’t shop on Thanksgiving weekend, though, unless I’m out of cat food or toilet paper. But I’m in the minority.

I love Christmas. I’d love it more if it started later — even if I do find Christmas gifts as I come across them in April, July, August, September. I look forward to December as the month when I’ll have room in my big closet again.

I want to enjoy Labor Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving without having Santa Claus looking over my shoulder. On Nov. 2, I passed a house that was decorated for Christmas. It stood out. I’ve seen their decorations so often already that I hardly notice them.

We shouldn’t rush through Thanksgiving weekend, a holiday devoted to family and thankfulness, to start hanging ornaments and buying presents. Or, worse yet, gulp our turkey and pumpkin pie and head for the strip mall.

Now, there are some Christmas things you have to start in November.

If you have a friend or family member in the military who is stationed overseas, you should send your gifts soon. (If you want to send a Christmas gift to someone in the military, check out the great website

My cousin Dorothy Caldwell makes her fruitcakes in early November and leaves them soaking in Kentucky bourbon for the next several weeks.

But retailers ought to let us enjoy Halloween and Thanksgiving before they start pushing Christmas on us. Christmas loses its sparkle when it comes too soon.

Jean Martin is a writer living in Swissvale (

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