Baker’s Dozen: We Know It’s the Holiday Season Because…

1. The day after Halloween, instead of everything being about Thanksgiving, every store went right to Christmas. November is now officially Christmas Part I. Or, Christmas: The Prequel.

2. Despite the warm spell hitting the middle of America currently, Christmas tree lots are sprouting up in a Store Parking Lot Near You.

3. Radio stations have already dedicated certain hours to solely playing Christmas/holiday music.

a) Stores start playing Christmas Muzak exclusively. I have it from a very good source that stores like Sephora were playing Christmas music even before Halloween and that she saw her first holiday ad on October 31.

4. The sheer bulk of our mail has tripled, with stores now advertising TWO Black Fridays or two days equivalent to Black Friday. Plasma TVs for $.49 and other nonsense.

5. Houses and small local businesses start decking out their exteriors with Christmas lights by November 2. These are the same people/establishments who will not take these down until March 3 or Easter.

a) You see ornaments for outrageous prices. I love Hallmark, being the card obsessed woman I am, but their Keepsake Ornament prices simply stagger me.

6. Large department stores put giant bows and wreaths on the outside of their buildings, making them look like it’s one giant gift box.

7. Every major website is adorned with the same type of advertising and promotions as physical stores. Sites like eBay have a counter that tells you how many shopping days are left, giving you that nice pre-holiday ulcer.

a) If you are an email subscriber to anything, you will be receiving early yuletide “secret sale” emails. “HURRY!” they shout.

b) Shipping prices have been slashed to either one dollar, one cent, or free.

8. Folks at work begin surreptitiously using all their free time to shop online. Postal workers, UPS men and the FedEx guy all start looking stressed when they enter places of business. The front area of every office looks like this:

These were all just for me today. Seriously.

9. Food, if it’s not already a constant in your workplace, begins multiplying as if we’re all going to hibernate the day after Christmas. (If only.) Bowls of chocolate, tins of popcorn, plates of cookies, pie, and any other type of holiday confection are all available 10 hours a day, five days a week. Add to this that emails begin circulating about holiday food gatherings.

10. Every single eatery, without exception, releases their holiday packaging. McDonald’s bags are decorated with golden snowflakes, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts will have their new festive holiday cups which contain their Christmas/holiday/yuletide coffee potions drenched in syrups, sprinkles, whipped cream and gooey toppings. Even gas stations have holiday packaging. You can buy a person a gift card to a gas station.

11. Your local and national news coverage, both on television and online, will dedicate (exponentially) segments/articles each week to saving money on travel, avoiding spending pitfalls, losing that holiday weight before it happens, circumventing travel nightmares, and promoting any human interest story that will get a tear or a dollar out of you. It’s already happening. (If you click on that travel link, you’ll see that the date of that article is September 20.)

12. Speaking of dollars…Salvation Army bell ringers line the street corners, clanging their bells incessantly while you try to maneuver the mobs and throngs of people all trying to get into the same stores as you are (mostly to escape the clanging bells).

13. All of the major networks come out with promos that are embedded with jingle bells, singing, etc. Channels like Hallmark, Lifetime and WE advertise their annual holiday made-for-television movie involving people being separated for Christmas and a person or animal joins them together, showing them the true meaning of the holiday spirit. While the movies tell you not to place such high importance on ribbons, tags, boxes or bags, the advertisements tell you that the ONLY things you should be worried about are when you buy your gifts and their accompanying, ribbons, tags, boxes and bags. HURRY UP, ALREADY!

a) Holiday specials now air in November. Check it.

These are only the thirteen that I could come up with and it’s November 15. If you buy into all the hype, you’re rushing off to start making those lists and checking them twice!

Author’s Note: Me, I love Christmas. Love, love, love it. I started listening to my Christmas music over the weekend. It was inspired by the fact that according to the stores and Everywhere in the United States, I should be fully immersed in the Christmas season already. So I thought, screw it, and the lilting voices of Bing and Nat and Perry and Johnny and all the rest of them filled my living room.