Punch Drunk: The Ol' Christmas Creep 


You were just dressed up in a costume and handing out candy. Now, as if magically descended from the North Pole, there are Christmas trees for sale. Holiday knickknacks dot every retail end cap. Big Christmas has launched an all-out offensive on the senses, and Thanksgiving is still two weeks away!

How did we get here?

At 103.7 Play we fired up Christmas music Oct. 7 at 6 a.m. — 79 days before the holiday. But we later revealed it as a prank, and stopped at 6 p.m. because we’re not unhinged lunatics. The response to our little ruse was mixed.

Many, many people were, let’s say, less than pleased to be hearing Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” forced upon them before Halloween. Some were irrationally angry. One woman cursed us out. If I recall correctly, she recommended that we go F ourselves. Another guy, via Facebook, suggested that we die. Needless to say, the prank worked like a champ.

What concerned me even more than empty death threats and irate callers though, was the even greater number of people who wholeheartedly supported our decision to begin the holiday season that early. They called in and wrote to say thank you. They said Christmas music could never start too early.

These people are quite obviously insane — and they have plenty of company.

Although it was a joke, we undoubtedly added to the annual “Christmas creep” — a marketing phenomenon in which retail stores began shoving Christmas sales down your throat before the traditional day-after-Thanksgiving start to the shopping season.

The creep used to refer to stores opening on Thanksgiving. But as I noted this same time last year, in the 2000s it started getting pushed back to midnight, and then Thanksgiving Day itself. Does it help the economy? Hurt the institution of family? The consumerism debate rages on.

The creep now is an entire quarter of sales from about Oct. 1 on — and it also can be seen in such holidays as Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Easter. Basically, the stores want to make sales by pushing these Hallmark holidays on you before it’s time. (Yes, I just referred to Easter as a Hallmark holiday.)

Now I don’t know if the seasonal creep is related to seasonal affective disorder, which also is known as seasonal depression, but I do know that I want to punch an elf when I feel like a store wants to prematurely pry my hard-earned money away by dangling holiday baubles in my face before it’s time.

So I can definitely understand the anger of the people who don’t want to hear Burl Ives telling them to have a holly jolly Christmas before the leaves change color. Would I ever curse out a radio host or threaten to kill someone over it? No, but I get it.

That being said, I love Christmas. It’s full of friends and family and joy, and I can be a sentimental fool about stuff like that. When I’m not punching elves.

What I’m saying is, regardless of how many dumb think pieces like this are written, or how many angry callers threaten to boycott 103.7 Play because we played “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” — the Christmas creep will continue to come in like a strong ocean tide. We can either beat on, boats against the current, flailing against the season — or we can just accept it.

This is a season for peace and goodwill, not anger over your morning commute being filled with ho-ho-ho-ing and jing-jing-jing-a-ling.

Now won’t you join me by the fire? I have a tacky sweater and a moose antler glass filled with eggnog — both with your name on them.

To my fellow consumer: Don’t fight this feeling. S

Jack Lauterback also is co-host of “Mornings with Melissa and Jack” on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9. Connect with him at letters@styleweekly.com, or on Twitter at @jackgoesforth.




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