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MCCULLOUGH: Farther down the shopping road

Nate McCullough

Nate McCullough

The speed with which corporate America shut the door on Halloween and opened it on Christmas was stunning this year.

It was the equivalent of one of those scenes in a spy thriller, when all the steel doors come slamming down, cutting off the hero from escape or the heroine or the super weapon, etc. Precisely at midnight, store displays across America changed like the revolving book shelves in the same sorts of movies. Holes opened up in the floor that swallowed the jack-o’-lanterns, costumes and door-decoration skeletons and into their place rotated trees, wrapping paper, bows, lights and wreaths. Away went the orange and black. Up jumped the red, green, gold and silver.

One day there were walls of DVDs with Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and The Exorcist. The next day it was Clarence the Angel, Frosty the Snowman and the Grinch.

It really didn’t matter what it was: from lawn decorations to party favors to candy, it was all changed over from its Halloween version to the Christmas version in a split second.

The same thing happened on television. One night I’m watching a Reese’s peanut butter cup commercial with spooky music and screams and the next day I’m hearing Christmas music.

Somehow, we just skipped right over Thanksgiving. In fact, does anyone know if we’re even having it this year? Seriously, it seems like it’s been canceled. Everyone is going shopping anyway, right?

Black Friday officially became Black Thursday a couple of years back, with a lot of retailers deciding to open early. But it seems now that everyone is following suit. I saw a sticker in a restaurant window this week that said it would be open from 7 a.m. to midnight on Thanksgiving, which seems to be its normal hours.

I sometimes wonder about how much farther down the consumerism road we can go. I’m not talking about political or socio-economic systems here. I’m talking about numbers. I’m talking about how much more stuff we need and how many days we need to be able to buy it.

When I was a kid, you just didn’t see Christmas stuff for sale in September unless it was some kind of gimmick. The day after Thanksgiving was the start of the season. And after Christmas was over, you had a few weeks before the stores filled the shelves with Valentine’s stuff. Now, it’s out the first week in January.

That restaurant is now going to make its employees work on Thanksgiving Day because its executives know that all the stores are going to be open and people are going to be out anyway, so might as well sell them breakfast. And lunch and dinner. Those Christmas commercials are playing now because they want you thinking about shopping. Buying stuff. Spending money.

And they want you to spend a lot of money, even if you don’t really have it to spare, because you don’t want to be the one who didn’t get your loved ones every single thing they ever wanted. You don’t want to be a bad person, do you?

That’s really a big part of the marketing campaign, isn’t it? To switch your thinking. We used to think having stores open on Sunday was weird. Now, we edge ever close to having them all open on Christmas Day.

And that’s the answer, I guess, to my question about consumerism. Christmas is the only day that’s sacred anymore, and its exemption is slowly being eroded. A few restaurants here, a few gas stations there. The movie theaters. How long before someone tries a super-duper-Christmas-Day-blowout sale? And if it makes even a little money, the rest will follow suit.

At the end of that road, we’ll go down another one. And I don’t even want to know where that one goes.

Email Nate McCullough at nate.mccullough@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.