The holidays all run together now. I don’t mean literally, I mean at the store.
Used to be, when you went into a Ben Franklin 5 & 10, Western Auto, Otasco, or Sears, you knew what holiday it was.
If it was almost Halloween, the appropriate decorations, costumes, and candy were on the shelf. My mom would take my sister and me to the store and we’d pick out a costume and then patiently wait for October 31 to roll around so that we could dress up and go trick or treating.
Come November, the same was true for fall decorations and items. As my mom prepared for Thanksgiving, we’d head back to the same stores. The Halloween items were gone, save for the bags of candy that didn’t sell and had been deeply discounted (mostly large quantities of candy corn, but rarely Snickers, M&Ms, or the other good stuff).
We’d see decorations such as autumn wreaths, horns of plenty, wicker baskets, and other items that could be placed in the house or outside your front door.
After Thanksgiving, the stores would then display Christmas items. Large, plastic Santas with a light bulb inside were always amazing to me. They were huge. You could sit them on your front porch or somewhere else in front of your house and they looked so great to those who drove by. I always wanted a big, plastic lightbulb Santa, but we never bought one. I’m guessing that they were expensive and we weren’t the Clampetts, so we had other, smaller decorations.
The Christmas decoration we had that I remember the most were the electric candles my mom would put in the window. The stems were white plastic and the lightbulbs were shaped like candle flames. My mom still has the electric candles and still puts them in the window every year. They have to be over 50 years old and they still come to life when she gets them out of storage, sets them on the sill, and plugs them in.
They just don’t make things as good as they used to.
After Thanksgiving, when the candles were in their rightful place in the window, my dad would load us and a hand saw into the Buick and we’d head out to one of the rural areas near where we lived to find a cedar for our Christmas tree.
Store-bought trees were available back then, but they were expensive and not many people had them, that I can recall. The exception was the goshawful aluminum trees with the lighted color wheel.
My grandmother had one of the aluminum trees and I can’t tell you how much I detested it. If there is such a thing as “Christmas Gawdy,” the aluminum Christmas tree is it. It always looked like a hippy stoner had partaken and then designed the thing. It basically was a wooden shaft with wires coming out that were supposed to represent the limbs and leaves. The leaves were some sort of flimsy metal, possibly Reynolds Aluminum Foil.
I remember this garish “tree” being in my grandparents living room next to the console stereo. The ceiling light would be turned off and the color wheel would turn and change the silver to green, blue and red. Doesn’t that just scream Christmas?
I still find these trees loathsome, but somehow, they have become highly collectible. Look them up on eBay. People are paying ridiculous money for these things. For the life of me, I have no idea why.
But today, the lines between the holidays have been erased. You can’t walk into a Walmart before the end of summer without seeing Christmas or fall items. Halloween costumes and bags of candy corn (that will later be available on clearance) now sit either side by side or on the same aisles.
I don’t know about you, but I liked it the way it was in the old days. If it was Halloween time, you only saw Halloween items for sale. The same was true for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
If I were a kid these days, I’d be completely confused.
Of course, all of this boils down to selling as much merchandise as possible. It’s not about the holidays or the seasons any longer. It’s about the almighty dollar.
Maybe I’m just naive and it always was about the money, but at least when I was a kid it seemed as if the store owners wanted it to look like Halloween at Halloween, and Christmas when it was Christmas.
There’s just something not right about being able to walk though a store and throw both a Batman costume and a plastic lightbulb Santa inside into your buggy.
It’s all so confusing. So, just to make sure I’m doing this correctly, I plan on wearing a Batman mask while I place an autumn wreath on the door and order myself a plastic, lightbulb Santa and some electric candles like my mom has.
Happy HalloweenThanksgivingChristmas, everyone.
©2017 John Moore
John’s new book, “Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now,” is available on Amazon.