Jones Outlook

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Messing up the holidays

It's that special time of year the kids will get a chance to beg for candy, dress up crazy and not get in any trouble for it either.

Halloween growing up was the coolest holiday outside of Christmas. My mom would make a costume for me. I was a ghostbuster, teenage mutant ninja turtle and even a musketeer.

I would collect pillow cases full of candy and spend time dividing it out into different groups - the chocolates, peanut butter, nuts and sugar food groups. The four basic candies every Halloween ticker-treater should have.

I loved the time of year, I always loved the fact that a few days before then, my dad and I would settle down in the kitchen floor to carve jack-o-laterns, picking up the pumpkin "guts" and getting all sticky trying to carve the scariest face I could stand.

However things have changed, it seems that kids are now being asked to consider Christmas before it's even Halloween.

Skip being a Power Ranger. Skip the pillow case of candy and go straight for the stocking full of candy.

Toy companies are already advertising the newest and greatest toys to get kids in a freeze for the $200 toy that will be sold out in 20 seconds.

Why is it that the retail world believes that we need Christmas for a third of the year?

I know that there has been a few flakes of snow here and there, temperatures below freezing and other signs of winter but it's barely the end of October and I already saw Egg Nog for sale.

Christmas decorations are going up in stores, holiday toy lists are already out and I'm left here scratching my head wondering what became of Halloween and Thanksgiving.

I know that my mother who works retail complains every year that Christmas season starts earlier every year. Instead of a general month of Santa and Frosty we are going on three months. To me that is too much.

I can understand cards and maybe a Christmas gift here and there, but what we have happening is out of control. The day after Thanksgiving is considered to be the busiest shopping day of the year. I never go shopping that day just because of that reason.

I also understand having to plan big events for the holiday season, it takes time and effort. I will be helping out in Santa's Castle this year and I have made the commitment to that and it was understandable.

Halloween comes and goes in a week, barely time to buy candy corn and then it's replaced with chocolate Santas.

Thanksgiving will come and go fast too, overpowered by the might of pre-Christmas.

The holidays were the coolest time of year because I would get to see my family. I would get a chance to see part of my family at Thanksgiving and the other half at Christmas. There was a great charge when the trees of tinsel and lights would go up.

Honestly, the retail world has cheapened that excitement for me. I use to look forward to putting up a tree as a sign of the holiday time coming near. But now seeing it all over the place while knowing that it is still months away, it's too much.

What if December 25 becomes just a day we can't shop? And those great kid holidays of October 31 and the last Thursday of November become just two more shopping days of the year.

* Jeff Jones is a Pilot-Tribune news reporter. Reach him at jjones@stormlake pilottribune.com