I needed a new glue gun. Clutching my coupon for “40%OFF ANY ITEM” I entered Michael’s on Manchester Road. Immediately upon entering I was bombarded with Christmas. Christmas music. Christmas decorations. Some random kid having a hissy fit on the floor, screaming for a toy for Christmas. There it was: Christmas overload and it wasn’t even Thanksgiving.
Without sounding like Andy Rooney, I wondered. Exactly when did it happen? How many years ago did we lose the suspense, magic and anticipation of the holiday season? I miss it. I miss the old days. The days when stores didn’t decorate for Christmas before Halloween.
Years ago (actually, decades ago) worked in retail at a gift store in Plaza Frontenac. Schirmers was a local, family owned store that carried china, crystal, collectables and high-end kitchen goods. With the exception of bridal season, Christmas was our biggest season. Each gift, regardless of the price, was wrapped beautifully, finished off with a hand-tied bow and an enclosure card. This was in Plaza Frontenac’s heyday- Galleria was yet to be built. People came to Plaza Frontenac on the day after Thanksgiving not only to shop, but to see the decorations. You see, when we closed on the day before Thanksgiving there was nary a holiday decoration. It all happened after the doors closed Wednesday night and compleated before the doors opened on “Black Friday.”
Customers waited in line before the doors opened at 10am Santa arrived with the crowd, walking down the center aisle to his throne. Parents and their young ones followed him to his gold sled. Children waited for the chance to sit on his lap as parents took photos. The mall was decorated differently every year, each year trying to out doing the previous year. I think the majority of the visitors came to experience the unbridled giddiness of the day, not so much to shop. You could walk off the Thanksgiving meal, all the while creating new family memories. You could see the live “Poinsettia tree” by Saks Fifth Avenue. Smell the fresh greenery that adorned the interior and exterior of the Plaza. Each shopkeeper decorated their stores with their own, personal style. Leppert-Roos, The Junior Bazaar, Pams, The Tartan Corner and Helen Wolff were decorated minimally and tastefully. Nobody needed bells and whistles. The holiday merchandise spoke for itself.
Last night, at dinner, I was relaying my experience at Michael’s to my kids. I was lamenting the commercialization of the holidays and the lack of importance of Thanksgiving. I told them I was sorry for that little boy who had no concept of time: to him Christmas was NOW! And he wanted that toy NOW! Not in 5 weeks. My daughter told me that Nordstrom’s would hold off with holiday decorating until after Thanksgiving. They did it last year and intend to do it this year. Thank you, Nordstrom’s. I appreciate that you’re keeping the holiday season to just a little over a month. And, you’ve got my business come December.