I was in Starbucks one afternoon last week, looking for a jolt that would keep me awake. This time, I didn’t even have to wait for the coffee.
“Is that a Christmas carol I hear?” I asked the two servers behind the counter. “It’s November. The first half of November.”
They rolled their eyes.
“Merchants used to wait till Thanksgiving till they hauled out all the Christmas stuff,” I continued. “Thanksgiving won’t be for two more weeks.”
Finally, I stopped. I knew I sounded like a history teacher orating in front of a bunch of stupefyingly bored students. I also knew I was complaining to people who didn’t have any power over an idiotic, corporate decision — and I hate it when I do that.
Besides, they worked there. They were the ones who were going to be spending the next six weeks listening to “The Little Drummer Boy” barump-a-bump-bum till they wanted to slip arsenic into the coffee pot. And who could blame them?
That was the worst holiday idea I’d seen this year — aside from the idea of the holidays themselves, which often strikes me as needing a five-year moratorium, during which time people could pay off their credit-card bills and stop watching that abysmal Lexus commercial in which somebody surprises somebody else with a brand-new Lexus with a bow wrapped around it. Every time I see that commercial, I’m reminded of the fact that — even though I think holiday indulgence is a very bad idea — nobody has ever gotten me a new car with a bow on it (it’s very difficult to be surprised by anything when you’re the person in your household who pays the bills; also, wouldn’t you know it, you’d be the one who’d end up making the monthly payments, and what kind of Merry Christmas is that?). Also, it’s a stark reminder that you’re the kind of loser parent who never got her kids a new car, ever, and never will; this, according to the logic of the commercial, shows you don’t love them, do you?
But, anyway, I thought Starbucks’ and everybody else’s jumping the holiday gun was the worst abuse I’d seen this year. Until, that is, I wandered into a bagel joint this morning. There, right in front of people who presumably had worked up an appetite, they were displaying Christmas bagels. Little, skinny bagels, colored red and green, wound around each other to make a holiday wreath. Beyond the fact it was one of the ghastliest decorations I’ve ever seen in my life, it looked curiously like multi-colored eels in a compromising sexual position. And that doesn’t even touch on the obvious problem: Multiculturalism and fusion are all well and good — but aren’t Christmas bagels an inherently misbegotten idea?
So. There you go. I can hardly wait till I see the upcoming rendition of Easter egg bagels. Given the way the seasons are getting rushed these days, they’ll be in a store near you by January, I feel sure.
(Copyright 2007 by Ruth Pennebaker)