James Johnson was right when he called our office with a story idea.
Halloween candy and costumes aren't even marked for clearance by the time stores start trotting out the wreaths, wrapping paper, toys and ornaments, he reminded us.
Times have changed, I realize. I've read that some of our large retail chains would have to consider store closures if they couldn't rely on those Thanksgiving night deals. Big or small, we need our local businesses to remain vibrant.
But I can't help but wonder if we've gone too far. A radio station (from outside of our immediate area, meaning not Spirit Lake or Spencer) has been running an all-Christmas music format for a couple of weeks now.
I'd love to think that a program director somewhere loves the season -- that they just have to hear "Jingle Bell Rock" before the turkey thaws. Logic tells me they're making a business decision. "Christmas creep" is the phrase I've heard. The most commercial part of the holiday creeps into earlier parts of the calendar as years go by. Heads up, Labor Day. You've been warned.
Cable channels are guilty of it too. Over the weekend I used the channel guide on my remote control to take an unofficial survey at the number of Christmas movies planned into programming already. As you might expect, The Hallmark Channel, Lifetime and Ion were among the worst offenders with: "Naughty or Nice," "Fir Crazy," "Moonlight & Mistletoe," "Snow Bride," "Three Wise Women," "Angel in the Family," "Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus," "A Very Merry Mix-up," "Meet the Santas," "A Carol Christmas," "Christmas Song," "It's Christmas, Carol!," "Matchmaker Santa," "Richie Rich's Christmas Wish," "Christmas Bounty," "Finding Mrs. Claus," "Kristin's Christmas Past," "Christmas with Tucker," "Recipe for a Perfect Christmas," "The Road to Christmas," "The Christmas Hope," "Anything But Christmas," "Defending Santa," "Christmas Twister," "A Golden Christmas 2," "Our First Christmas," "Pete's Christmas," "The Christmas Heart," "Eloise at Christmastime," "A Dog Named Christmas," "Secret of Giving," "Christmas in Canaan" and finally "Christmas at Water's Edge."
By my count, 33 movies at two-hour dollops of bliss for 66 hours of Christmas viewing pleasure. And, I'm sure I missed some.
I'm also sure some of you enjoy the movies and music. There are folks out there who will be glad the big box store is open on Thanksgiving Day, too.
But, Thursday isn't the day before Black Friday to Mr. Johnson and a lot of folks like him.
It's a day when we're supposed to remember all the things we already have -- it's not supposed to be a day when we start worrying about the giving-and-taking of our annual gift exchanges.
So, give yourself one gift if you can. Slow down. Eat a good meal. Watch a football game. Cherish the people you already have and put Christmas in your pocket for one day.
Then on Friday and Saturday, feel free to shop and shop some more. The word "giving" is part of phrase "Thanksgiving weekend" after all.
The "thanks" just happens to come first.