Deck the halls...quick!
Merry Christmas, everybody!
What's that you say? Do I realize that it is September, and almost 80 degrees outside? Am I aware that it is over a month before Halloween, let alone Thanksgiving? Am I completely insane? All valid questions, I assure you.
However, I know it is Christmastime for a fact, because on Friday, the 25th of September, I visited the local Walmart to stock up on pet food, which doesn't taste as bad as you think, and the Christmas trees had already been put out. The economic gauntlet had been thrown down. They'd brought out the wrapping paper, ornaments, the wreaths and stockings, where just days ago, bland grass seed and gardening goods was piled on the shelves. It was like Whoville in reverse.
Because EVERYBODY needs a Christmas tree in September. Only 92 shopping days left! What are you waiting for... Christmas? Buy buy buy! Don't have a glittering tree in your bathroom yet? You're not doing your part for Wall Street.
Of course, these trees aren't actually trees. If you were foolish enough to put up a real fir at this time of year, it would be just a bare stick surrounded by a pile of dead needles by the time Thanksgiving rolled around. I like to think of this as nature's way of telling you not to be a dolt shopping for Christmas trees when summer is barely over.
Nothing says the spirit of Christmas like plastic trees, though. Imagine the poor guy who has to plant all those plastic forests.
I notice most of the big-box-store trees come pre-lit, which is a nice way of saying that when one bulb on the built-in string goes out, you have to landfill the whole mess and buy another tree.
Pre-lit? What manner of evil magic is this? You can't have Christmas without putting up awkward strings of lights, with bare spots on one side of the tree an clumps on the other. Where will the next generation of children learn all their swear words, if not from Dad trying to untangle a monster ball of knotted cords?
Several of these trees seem to be entirely white or silver. Because... because...
Okay, I don't know why. Google it yourself. Nature doesn't make evergreens in these particular colors, but who am I to judge anyone's conifer beliefs?
I focused on the "Pre-Lit 8.5' Vermont Fir Artificial Christmas Tree with 900 Clear Lights," though I must say, the whole concept of studying Christmas trees while wearing shorts, flip flops and SPF 60 did leave me feeling a bit queasy.
Vermont fir? According to the National Christmas Tree Association, 85 percent of fake Christmas trees are made in factories in China by low-wage folk Buddhist folk have little idea what Christmas is. I suppose Shanghai fir doesn't have the same ring.
And 900 lights? That's surely not enough to properly celebrate the birth of Jesus! If your tree doesn't have the equivalent foot-candles of staring at the sun for hours on a scorching July midday, you're just not trying hard enough.
I notice this tree is $191.02. I'm not sure what the two cents is for - it sounds made up to me. Like when your date's father asks what time you brought her home last weekend, and you can't cop to midnight, but 11 sounds too neat a lie to be believable, so you panic and pull out 10:48:17, sir.
Finally, I discover that this Christmas tree has an optional Walmart Care Plan, which extends its warranty for three years for the bargain price of $24. Now I can see a care plan on a complex TV or a laptop computer. or anything else that tends to become unaffective when thrown from a railroad overpass.
But a Christmas tree? Now much can really go wrong with a plastic tree? If you break a Christmas tree, in my book, that's on you.
Walmart has also already started its Christmas layaway program, the earliest in company history, I'm told. I briefly considered asking if a pound of high-quality hamburger would qualify.
As near as I can tell, Christmas trees go up in the stores approximately one week earlier every year. By my calculations, in 2026, Christmas season will begin on the 4th of July. And eventually, by September, holiday decor sales will be underway for Christmas - Christmas the following year.
Don't get me wrong. I watch "Love, Actually." Clearly, I'm a Christmas guy.
I like Christmas. The cookies. The songs. Charlie Brown. The cookies. The church pageants. The school concerts. The cookies. The lights. The gift shopping. The gatherings. Did I mention the cookies?
I'm not sure I'm ready to like it in September, though. To each their own - I have friends who crow on Facebook about having their Christmas shopping done in by Valentine's Day. And me still working on my Ides of March festival shopping. How embarrassing.
If you want to mash all the year's holidays together, and shop for Easterpatricksthanks-kwaanzachristoweeenofJuly, be my guest. man.
But fall is a pretty decent season with a feel all its own. Football, harvest, hunting, sweaters, leaves, kids in Batman suits begging for cavities. It would be nice to enjoy that for a bit, I thought, as I drove home from the store.
Ah, crap. I forgot to get the pet food.