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MURPHY: Christmas comes early?

An old “Dennis the Menace” newspaper comic from the 1980s shows Dennis and his pal Joey standing in front of a department store window. Dennis says, “Look, Joey, they’re putting up the Christmas decorations … that means Halloween can’t be far off.”

Fast forward 30 years or so and you'll find the Menace's comment remains accurate.

Last weekend, a 30-foot Christmas tree replete with ornaments and garland was donning the fountain plaza at the Mall of Georgia -- a day before Halloween, four weeks before Thanksgiving and two months before Christmas.

I took a photo with an iPhone and posted on Facebook with the caption "Pre-Halloween at the Mall of Georgia." Within moments there were "likes" and comments that can be described as dislikes.

Christmas has been encroaching on the rest of the year for some time now -- evidenced by Hank Ketcham's cartoon 30 years ago.

Many aren't fans of the commercialization creep. However, those in the newspaper business won't complain. The advertising in today's Daily Post is full of holiday messages ... and you'll find our annual Home for the Holidays special section in this Nov. 6 edition, too. Hey, at least we waited until after Halloween.

Television is no better. Check the Daily Post's TV listings today and you'll find you can snuggle up with some hot cocoa and a peppermint stick and watch "Mistletoe over Manhattan," "Eve's Christmas" and "The Last Holiday" -- despite it being sunny and 65 degrees outside.

Newspapers, retailers and many other businesses have a lot riding in the fourth quarter and holiday season are essential. With the sluggish economy, the holidays can be even more critical to a company's bottom line. For some, it's make or break. So the longer the season, the better the buying.

For a few years now, Nordstrom has taken notice of the backlash against Yuletide elongation. The department store chain posts signs alerting customers they won't see holiday decor in their stores until the day after Thanksgiving. "Why?" the signs explain, "Well, we just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time."

I have no problem with Christmastime starting in October. I mean, everyone is always complaining about the holiday rush. It always seems the holidays are over in a flash. By Jan. 2, we sit around dazed, tired, a few pounds heavier and wonder where the holidays went. Why not deck the halls a bit early?

The point is we may express outrage at Christmas tree sale displays in September (confirmed at Sam's Club this year) and images of elves, reindeer and sugarplums invading October, but the phenomenon is nothing new.

It does make us want to rethink the phrase "Christmas come early." But what's wrong with that?

J.K. Murphy is publisher of the Daily Post. Email him at jk.murphy@gwinnettdailypost.com.