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C. Stroup – Hold off on the holidays (Part 1)

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So a few days after Christmas I’m in the store buying up the now half-priced Christmas cards for next year.  I find them shoved over to the far side of the store along with dented decorations, wrinkled wrapping paper, obnoxious ornaments and withered looking plastic wreaths.  I’m not in the market for any of that other stuff so my entire focus is on the cards.

On my way to the cash register my vision is assaulted by the too-numerous-to-count shelves of baskets, buckets, bowls and small plates brimming with Valentine’s Day candy.  (It’s not even January.)  There are also stuffed animals that include a plethora of bears, big red hearts to hang on a door and glitzy banners professing true love.  The bags of those chalky little hearts with the cutesy sentiments stamped on them are located on the top shelf…all of the top shelf.  And, of course, you’ll find a wide assortment of sacks of candy right next to the one pound pure milk chocolate hearts.  If you don’t want to buy the real thing, you can purchase artificial red roses or other plastic posies.  I’ve now shot all my arrows from Cupid’s quiver except to say, “Valentine’s Day isn’t until February 14th.”

It goes without saying that well before Valentine’s Day hits, additional shelving will appear laden with St. Patrick’s Day trappings.  There will be baskets, buckets and bowls of candy (probably left over from Christmas) wrapped in bright green plastic and shimmering shamrocks to hang on the door.  Right beside the beaming banners boasting “Good Luck” there will be leprechauns peeking out, not only from within the baskets but from behind them, as well.  (I always wonder if left over Christmas elves double for the leprechauns.  They look pretty much the same to me.)  I’ll be surprised if I don’t find pitchers for the green beer which will be consumed in huge quantities.  (What’s up with the “green beer,” anyway?  Why not green wine or green vodka?)  “St. Patrick’s Day isn’t until March 17th.”

Groundhog Day comes in around the first of February but, thankfully, we’re spared decorations for that.  And none of the stores seem to make a big deal out of Presidents Day and they probably should.  We’re also off the hook when April Fools Day rears its sneaky head because shops don’t recognize it. So it’s pretty tricky to find anything festive in the way of foolery…and that’s a relief.

Before St. Patty’s Day has even arrived the Easter onslaught pours in.  It’s mostly treated as a candy, stuffed rabbits/baby chicks and Easter lily event.  You can purchase crosses that light up but they’re crammed in amongst big bunnies that grin.  Scads more candy blankets the bunny trail that leads directly to the massive merchandise display.  Naturally the bonbons are in the form of eggs and in every essence of chocolate.  And not to be outdone by Cupid, there are one pound chocolate rabbits, too.  There’s always a vast array of greeting cards available if you’re up to sending cards again after having just done so on Valentine’s Day and Christmas.  “Easter isn’t until the end of April.”  

When Mother’s Day nears, starting more than a month before, it’s the TV advertisers that go wild, overshadowing the stores.  They suggest buying Mom a new car or a diamond necklace or some form of hi-tech computerized gizmo.  This day she’d probably love getting a card, perhaps some roses and for sure someone to take her out for a meal or at least do the dishes!  Candy would probably make her throw up after weathering the afore mentioned holidays.  “Mother’s Day is around the middle of May.”

With Memorial Day just half a month away, grocery stores have long since mailed out their flyers with all the specials to please any palate.  This day is used to celebrate BBQ and casseroles.  Not nearly enough attention is paid to its true purpose, i.e. remembering the fallen heroes of our country.  (Don’t get me started on that one.)  I will add that there is usually an abundance of flags readily available in about every store, as it should be.  What I don’t get is what mattress sales have to do with anything.  These ads appear on TV about two months before Memorial Day and offer huge discounts due to their Memorial Day Special Event.  A benchmark of “if you’ve had your mattress for eight years, it’s time to replace it,” is always mentioned.  And don’t forget about the dust mites!  Your mattress has millions of them in it!  And then they show pictures of these disgusting, fuzzy little critters that you sleep with.  “Memorial Day isn’t until the end of May.”

Stay tuned for next month’s tirade on early overloads for Father’s Day, 4th of July and Labor Day’s premature shelf stocking.  (And this is just to name a few.)

On that note I’ll sign off.  I just needed to vent; these holidays make me crazy.  But at least after reading this you can update your calendars so as not to miss any extraordinary upcoming occasion…wouldn’t want you to be unprepared or late for the date!

Originally published in the February 2014 issue of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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