By Bev Schellenberg
What has happened to our celebratory schedule? It seems it was only a few weeks ago that I bought a witch hat and cape for my daughter, a baron costume for my son, and carved a pumpkin. In fact, it was only a few weeks ago. Now here I am surrounded by Christmas geegaws, and decking the halls.
Of course, various Scrooges have decried the too-early arrival of Christmas for awhile now, complaining about stores putting out Christmas baubles and cards even while the Hallowe’en candy waits to be marked down. But somehow the festivities seem yet more squished together this year. Somewhere along the way our holiday schedule condensed — the Campbells soup of celebrations.
I first noticed this new über-exuberance in early November, when, as I was driving home from work, I saw a twinkling Christmas tree in a livingroom window. I couldn’t believe it — I had to back up the van and stare. It was a tree, all right. And yet, further down the street, huge spider webs and zombies still adorned some of the houses. Meantime, local newspapers and the Sun were so pregnant with flyer after flyer I could barely carry them to the recycling box.
Then the Black Friday advertisements began to appear. What on earth was that? I wondered. I had to check Wikipedia to discover that, during the week after American Thanksgiving, retailers in the U.S. find themselves “in the black” and sales appear. Did Canadian advertisers think that Canadian consumers care a beaver’s butt about that? Did they think that utilizing an American marketing gimmick would cause us to flock to our own malls in happy hordes?
In fact, armed with this new knowledge, my daughter and I braved what ended up being the non-existent line-ups at the border and shopped-til-we-dropped . . . in the United States. The sales were so magnificent that we intend to make the trip annually. Thanks Canadian advertisers!
Another holiday complication is the sheer volume of offerings in this multicultural melting pot. For example, my children and I have recently adopted the celebration of Hanukkah prior to celebrating Christmas. That means by the first week of December our Jewish friends have already had us over for the lighting of the menorah, the spinning of the dreidel, and the listening to twisted Christmas carols.
And, of course, Chinese New Year is just around the corner.
My feeling is we need a one-size-fits-all holiday solution. We should take our cue from those people who decorate their homes in orange lights for Hallowe’en and then simply add a few lit candy canes or reindeer.
With the idea of maximizing usage and minimizing effort, someone needs to create a multi-purpose display unit from which we can hang seasonally appropriate adornments. Since the holiday cycle begins with Hallowe’en, I suggest a skeleton, about the size of . . . well, me, so I don’t have to reach too high.
At Hallowe’en, we’ll have the choice of simply displaying our skeleton in all its minimalist beauty, or adding zombie and pumpkin ornaments to its ribs and bony fingers. Hanukkah, we can hang menorahs and dreidels, and then pull out our Xmas box and put up Santas, sleighs, and a manger scene. Come Chinese New Year, we’ll add bright red coin envelopes and gold and red hangings; for Valentine’s Day, we can switch to candy hearts and add kisses. Plaid and tiny bagpipes would be appropriate for Robbie Burns Day, and then those could easily be replaced with cutesy green hats and green beer glasses for St. Patrick’s Day. Once Easter rolls in, our multi-purpose “tree” will be the ideal location upon which to hang smiling bunny rabbits and brightly coloured eggs.
May 5th brings the opportunity to combine two international holidays: Children’s Day, a Japanese celebration my children have often recommended we adopt (miniature carp kites and samurai helmets would look adorable hanging from Boney’s limbs) and Mexico’s Cinco De Mayo (miniature mariachi bands).
Things get leaner after Mother’s and Father’s Day. But with Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot all available on the Jewish calendar, Independence Day in the States, and Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr courtesy Islam, I think we’ll manage. We’ll have an endless display of celebrations complete with non-ending feasts and the occasional fast to balance out the gastronomic delights.
If we can’t escape our incessant holiday schedule, we might as well embrace it. Thus I apologize in advance to my local tree farm. Next Christmas, my children and I shall be in search of a skeleton upon which to hang the holidays. Perhaps we’ll find one in the discount holiday bin amidst the Hallowe’en cast-offs, Easter bunnies, and Saint Patrick’s Day hats.