Before I begin, an update from last week. We’re not talking as much about sports in Lexington as we usually do, except for the World Series. I wonder if Philadelphia will be ready to handle two riots, one if they win the World Series, and one after the election results are known?
Anyway, we’re not talking as much because of embarrassment over last Saturday’s game between the University of Kentucky and the University of Florida. The UK Wildcats lost, 63-5. What a blowout.
On Monday, I heard Jack Pattie, the city’s leading morning DJ, make the annual complaint about the Christmas decorations and hype coming too early. And this is from a guy who moonlights as Santa Claus every December! He pointed out that it’s not even Halloween yet, and some stores are full of Christmas decorations already. Last Sunday, for instance, I dropped in the local Big Lots store to see what was new, and they had at least as much Christmas stuff as Halloween stuff. I agree; we shouldn’t give Christmas much attention until Santa appears at the end of the Thanksgiving Day parade. However, I’ve been wondering about a couple of things.
First, Jack Pattie suggested that moving the beginning of the Christmas season earlier each year (what he calls “Christmas Creep”) might be a response to expected poor sales, because the economy is doing so bad right now. Well, couldn’t it work the other way, too? Every year I hear news stories declaring that Christmas sales are slower than expected, that this is the worst Christmas the retailers can remember, or that some businesses will close next year if they don’t sell enough this holiday season. Even in prosperous years, I never hear anybody saying it was a good Christmas for Madison Avenue. If the merchants are really doing that badly every year, don’t you think that some of them would say something like, “Due to lack of interest, Christmas has been canceled?”
Second, there seems to a blurring of the line between Halloween and Christmas; I’m starting to have trouble telling them apart. I don’t know what caused it, but I’m guessing that it started twenty years ago, with a delightful movie about both holidays: “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” And I probably ought to confess that I contributed toward the trend, by telling my family and friends about CthulhuLives.org, a website that promotes spooky Christmas carols.
Along that line, we have more Halloween decorations appearing outside peoples’ houses every year. Besides the usual fake tombstones and monsters, we have candles in the windows, as if they’re trying to draw Hanukkah into this, too. Also Halloween lights, and trees with little pumpkins hanging off them, like Christmas balls. And the sales of candy, costumes and pumpkins increase every year.
Speaking of pumpkins, when I lived in Florida, the best place to get a pumpkin in October was in front of a church. I haven’t seen as much of that here; most people seem to prefer shopping for pumpkins at the grocery store, presumably because October nights in Kentucky aren’t as mild as they are in Florida. Still, for years I have asked the question, “What do pumpkin sales have to do with Christianity?” and nobody has given me a straight answer yet. Typically it’s the Methodists and Catholics who have the biggest sales, though once I even saw a Baptist church selling pumpkins. The Methodist church my parents attended had a particularly big sale. My pastor lived next door to that church, and once he had an Israeli friend, Gershon Salomon of the Temple Mount Faithful Movement, staying in his house. The pumpkin sale was going on at the time, and I think he was too embarrassed to explain it. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gershon got the idea that Halloween is just another Christian holiday.
All that we need is for some druid to come along, complain that Halloween has gotten too commercial, and call for going back to the original meaning of the holiday. In the meantime, I’m getting concerned for Thanksgiving. Whereas Leive and I ignore Halloween and Christmas almost completely, Leive still fixes a nice Thanksgiving feast, and that poor day is stuck in-between the other two!
A Redneck Pumpkin