In our current on-demand world, it appears the powers-that-be want to run events and holidays running into and overlapping one after the other, like sport team seasons converging in the inevitable playoffs. Take our current calendar season. As of this writing, the calendar says it is Halloween. Yet the store aisles are filled with Christmas decorations and holiday supplies, and TV is airing Christmas gifting ads … and they have been for weeks!
This isn’t entirely a recent phenomena. Boomers grew up knowing they weren’t going to be able to buy a swimsuit in August, or a winter coat in March — other than picked-over clearance merchandise. Yet things are different now. There is a dwindling recognition of season, and no sense of anticipation. You want breakfast at 3 pm, no problem! Need a term paper by tomorrow? It can be in your driveway tomorrow, without ever going to a dealership. In the boomer years, anticipation was part of what made holidays and events what they were. (See: Boomers Learned to Wait)
Halloween used to be a one-day event. Now it’s a month-long, $10.5 billion dollar industry, according to the National Retail Federation. Christmas season didn’t begin until Thanksgiving dinner was over. Black Friday was hardly the madhouse it became in post-boomer years; stores opened at their regular time. Now it’s all shopping, all the time …. online. Fortunately, some retailers have seen the error of their ways and will close their stores for Thanksgiving this year, claiming they value their employees and want them to spend holiday time with their families. Of course, the real reason they will close is they can make more money with less overhead by pushing online purchases.
If Mister B is sounding a little cynical and curmudgeonly, and you’re ready to tell him “OK, boomer,” well, that’s fine with him. Boomers have lived six to seven decades now, and have the advantage of seeing how different things were to what they have become. Mister B, for one, enjoyed holidays as they arrived in the little boxes of a calendar, anticipating each day by day, and enjoying them to their fullest when they arrived. Only then could he and other boomers think about what came next. As each calendar page turned, seasons changed, and holidays would appear on the horizon. Anticipation made it special. Living in the present made it the best. How will today’s kids remember the Halloween of 2022? Or the Thanksgiving? Or the Christmas? And will they have to refer to some online archive of snapshots and videos to tell them what actually happened?
How about you, boomers? Do you care if Christmas ads play constantly on your TV in October?