"Christmas shoppers not spending at Broadway Plaza" --- TESSA, LAPL

The Weekly Rant: Here Comes the Christmas Creep

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In the States, we’ve adopted a national custom that starts each October with the jingling of the first Christmas bells of the season — its name: the Christmas Creep. It represents the beginning of the early Christmas shopping season and ushers in anxiety, irritation and, in some cases, revulsion.

Growing up in the 1980s, I remember waking up the day after Thanksgiving to the sounds of Christmas carols on television. My family, still tired from the previous day’s feasting, would sit around the TV to veg. The day after Thanksgiving marked the true start of the Christmas season — something almost as magical as waking up on Christmas morning. 

As an adult, stores get decked out in red and green lights while carolers on TV repeat the old favorites the week before Halloween. It boggles my mind. 

I understand that retailers depend largely on holiday sales. With Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years all within a five to six-week period, retailers stand to make huge gains. But competition has pushed them toward more aggressive advertising practices. 

I walked into a Walgreens store in Hollywood last week and walked into a Christmas nightmare. Fake trees, tinsel and Bing Crosby bombarded me the moment I passed through the doors. A couple of days later I found a similar sight at a Home Depot. Not one week before there were plastic pumpkins and inflatable skeletons, now there are Christmas trees and wreaths. 

“… the rush to the season has left many of us with a feeling that time is slipping away. We’re already time-pressed and juggling too many things at once. ” — Renuka Rayasam, BBC

It felt like an invasion — an invasion on the other holidays that precede Christmas. There was no warmth or joy like in my childhood. And I’m not alone in this. A recent article by Renuka Rayasam of the BBC addresses the topic of nostalgia and how the Christmas Creep can ruin the nostalgia that should come along with the holiday season.

“… the rush to the season has left many of us with a feeling that time is slipping away. We’re already time-pressed and juggling too many things at once,” Rayasam wrote. “Christmas creep, experts say, also makes some of us feel robbed of not just time, but of our fond memories.”

But nostalgia isn’t the only psychological effect the Creep can have on us. According to Healthline.com, it can also dredge up stress, anxiety and feelings of inadequacy, something discussed often in articles about dealing with holiday stress — in fact, quick Google search will pull up dozens of them.

Given how much we know about stress and the holidays, it shouldn’t be difficult to see how extending the holiday season can extend the stress. 

I find it most ironic that the Christmas Creep doesn’t even work all of the time and can actually have the opposite effect. Nathaniel Meyersohn of CNN Business explores how retailers may actually be shooting themselves in the foot by pulling out the Christmas decorations too soon. 

“An October promotion loses its power if shoppers believe they can still find the same stuff on sale in December or January” — Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN Business

“… there are risks to dragging out holiday deals for too long. Stores use promotions to convince shoppers to buy right away or risk losing out,” Meyersohn wrote. “An October promotion loses its power if shoppers believe they can still find the same stuff on sale in December or January”.

A business can only have one “best sale of the season” or “holiday blowout to end all blowouts”. Consumers, regardless of socio-economic factors or life experience, can usually put two and two together and quickly realize that it’s often better to wait for a better deal. 

I truly can’t describe the feeling I’d get the first time I heard a Christmas song on the day after Thanksgiving; I don’t feel that anymore. Part of it stems from the fact that I’m still in Halloween and Día de los Muertos mode. Part of it is simply that excessive repetition eventually embeds an acrid taste in my mouth. 

I miss the nostalgia that I’m certain I’ll never get back.

Los Angeleno