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October 23, 2007

Merry Thanksgivoween

A cartoon shows a house decorated for the holidays. A banner reads: “Merry Thanksgivoween: Sept. 1 thru Jan. 1.” Among the decorations is a jack-o-lantern that sports a Pilgrim’s hat and Santa Claus beard. A woman walking by says to her companion: “Guess it was inevitable.”

Inevitable? Really?

Then there’s a Chicago Tribune article: “Macy’s Inc. put up its ‘Holiday Lane’ Christmas decor shop at its Chicago flagship on Sept. 9. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. cut prices on its ‘top 12 toys for Christmas’ on Oct. 1. ... With the crucial months of November and December accounting for as much as 25 percent of a retailer’s annual sales, it is little wonder that retailers are doing their best to stretch out the season.”

Retailers say they are responding to consumer demand. “Many of our customers thank us for setting up early,” said Macy’s spokesman Jim Sluzewski, adding that some prefer to beat the crowds and others look for decorating ideas.

Marshall Cohen, president of a retail consulting firm, said: “We have to recognize that part of the sluggishness of the consumers isn’t just the economy. The industry isn’t doing enough to get the consumer excited.”

I don’t begrudge the retailers who need to increase sales or people who like to shop early. But how early is too early? Has consumerism taken over Christmas? If so, how can we get consumers excited about the true meaning of the season? Can we put Christ back in Christmas?

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