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anne mikolay 2012 120I was in Sears the other day, and though it is not yet Thanksgiving, Christmas carols were playing in the background. The Kris Kringles among us probably sang along, but the rest of us acknowledged the piped-in music for what it was: a subliminal marketing tool designed to lengthen the Christmas shopping season and lure shoppers into opening their wallets. Despite this, I enjoyed Sears' offerings of beautiful, twinkling Christmas trees. However, the display was somewhat ruined by the proximity of those horrid, inflatable lawn ornaments, the giant Pooh bears, Snoopy dogs, Micky and Minnies that litter lawns each holiday season. This year, the usual characters are joined by none other than inflatable Darth Vader in a Santa hat. Very festive, very Christmassy. (Not!) Only in an alien world is Star Wars synonymous with the holiday season. Darth Vader is just not Christmas.

And neither is that annoying Christmas pig. In Sears, standing near Santa Darth, was this year's rendition of the winged, pink Christmas pig: a lighted, standing, equally pink pig. Last year, after much investigation, I learned the correlation  between the winged pig lawn ornament and the traditional peppermint pig candy. This year, while flipping through a catalog featuring glass pig Christmas tree ornaments of all things, I discovered further significance to this questionable symbol of the season. In Germany, pigs are considered symbols of good fortune. According to German tradition, partaking of a roast pork dinner on Christmas Eve prevents evil and promotes prosperity in the new year.  Who knew little pigs were so important?! (And now that I know, I still don't want one on my lawn!). Though I will concede there is a connection, however slight, between peppermint pig candy and Christmas, the Christmas pig, whether winged or standing, should retire. Pigs are just not Christmas. 

And neither is watching a Christmas movie in November. Last night, while flipping the television dials, I came upon a series of Hallmark Christmas movies. Christmas movies before Thanksgiving? Why? When I was a child, Christmas movies were special. Each year, after the Thanksgiving Day parade, Miracle on 34th Street aired, followed a week or so later by Charlie Brown's Christmas and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The kids at school reminded one another to watch; in the days before digital video recording, if you missed the Christmas specials, you had to wait another twelve months to watch.  The anticipation was as much fun as the programs. That was magic. That was Christmas. Airing seasonal movies far in advance of the holiday is akin to putting up a Christmas tree in October. By the time the season actually rolled around, you would be sick of it. Christmas movies in November is just not Christmas.

And neither are holiday lay-offs. After my jaunt through Sears, a friend informed me she has been laid off from her job, zapped at the tender age of 63 by the dreaded budget cuts. While the thirty-somethings can pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and dive back into the job market, it's not so easy for those sliding down the back of fifty. Apparently, nobody cares that with age comes experience as well as loyalty, tried and true work ethic, and the ability to think outside the box before the “box” became a cliché. In a perfect world, management would not initiate lay-offs so close to the holiday season. It's just not in keeping with the spirit of the holiday. It's just not Christmas.

Let's extend the magic of Christmas with kindness to one another and child-like anticipation. Christmas should not follow Halloween! Stretching the calendar is just not Christmas.