Back in November, when the ‘all Christmas music, all day’ radio stations and Yule log burning fireplace TV channels commenced their festive flooding of the airways, I was reminded of a term that was coined back in the 1980s: Christmas creep.
Christmas creep does not refer to someone dressed in a scary Santa suit, or a mischievous elf-on-the-shelf type critter, rather it denotes how year after year the anticipated festivities of the holiday season start sooner and sooner. We have all seen the Costco Christmas trees in August. On the heels of Halloween who can unsee the blitz of fruit cake and egg nog on store shelves, and the relentless blitz of Santa heads, reindeer, and everything Christmas that decks the halls of dollar shops? Donning our gay apparel after Thanksgiving and rushing the season like a one horse open sleigh to a midnight madness sale epitomize the true meaning of Christmas creep.
The song We Need a Little Christmas popularized in Jerry Herman’s Broadway musical, Mame, is thought to be a contributing factor to this notion of rushing the season. The musical depicts a household that, due to the market crash of 1929, needs cheering up. After the lead character, Mame, loses her vast fortune, she realizes the emotional and psychological impact this turn in fortune has on her nephew and servants. To this end she seeks to raise their spirits by singing this now classic song thereby putting her charges in a happier frame of mind. Sound familiar?
Yes, We Need a Little Christmas right this very minute. The original lyrics include the line, “But, Auntie Mame, it’s one week past Thanksgiving Day now!” We know that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have evolved from the American move to ramp up sales following their Thanksgiving. This song, written in 1966, one year after the classic A Charlie Brown Christmas, which to this day points out the folly of glitzy pink Christmas tree consumerism, reveals in more recent renditions that the creep is ever-present.
“But, Auntie Mame, it’s one week from Thanksgiving Day now!”
This is not unexpected since we all know that Christmas is run by a big eastern syndicate! This syndicate wants one thing only: to rush the season to get our tens and twenties sooner.
“Isn’t there anyone who can tell me what Christmas is all about?”
We know that commercialism has taken hold of our holy days, not just Christian ones either. We also know that amid our economic downturn there are many who are feeling the pinch of gift expectations versus present reality. I recently drove past a billboard sponsored by the Knights of Columbus who remind Christians to ‘keep Christ in Christmas.’ As ironic as it is to have to say this, the sign reminds us that it is deemed counter cultural to do so. Tinsel, lights, plastic inflatable snow figures and the like, accompanied by our ever-creeping shopping-centric society, often obscure the true meaning of the baby born in a manger and the gift that he is meant to be.
So, like the song says, since “we need a little Christmas right this very minute” I may as well let Santa know that what I would really like this year is for McKenney Avenue and Ray Gibbon Drive to be fully twinned, add an Old Navy store and a Bulk Barn to the Erin Ridge shopping district for merry measure and synchronize the traffic lights on St. Albert Trail so we can jingle all the way. Is this too much to ask jolly old St. Nicholas in these Christmas creeping times of instant gratification? Then again, there is the possibility of carbon tax on my usual lump of coal.
Tim Cusack is an educator, writer, and hopefully on Santa’s “nice list” for once.