December 1, 2004
The Rules


So there it was: the first holiday commercial of the 2004 season. 

It was of those big/noisy/logo-intensive production numbers for Target, filled with catchy music, quirky camera angles, clever product placement, attractive young actors feigning orgasm over kichen appliances. (I dunno. Would *you* wax orgasmic over an electric cookie press?  I'm not sure *I* would ... unless it came with actual COOKIES, maybe.) I caught the commercial during The Matt Lauer Show, as I was drying my hair for work: I actually shut off the Conair QuietTone 1875 in mid-blast so I could listen to it.  The ad -- bright, brief, sparkly, like a champagne cocktail served in a blue plastic flute -- was clearly designed to to imbue the viewer with an early sense of holiday spirit and/or confident consumerism. Ho Ho Ho! it chirped. Happy Holidays!  Peace on earth, good will to all credit account holders in good standing!

It was the day after Halloween.

"Uh-oh," Jaymi said, when I called her at work later that morning. "Does this mean we're not allowed to shop at Target this year?"  

For most of her growing-up years, this was Mommy's Rule: If they advertise before Thanksgiving, they don't get *our* business. (This ran concurrently with Mommy's 43,897,621 OTHER Rules of Christmas, including If they play Christmas music before Thanksgiving, we boycott the radio station   ... If they mail us a Christmas card before Thanksgiving, they're off the list forever  ...   If they hang their Christmas lights before Thanksgiving, we egg their house at midnight. ) Looking back, I think my rules had less to do with me being Scroogelike about the holidays -- although I WAS Scroogelike about the holidays, quite a lot of the time: I still am, occasionally, if you push the wrong buttons -- than with my need to maintain absolute control over our household environment. As a frazzled young mother of three, desperate to provide her children with a Macy's Christmas on a 7-11 budget, nothing peeved me more than having the holiday season crammed down my throat before I was ready. I imagine I would have ruptured a cerebral artery, back in 1991, if they'd dared to advertise for Christmas before we'd even finished shovelling the rotting jack-o-lanterns off the front porch. 

I seem to be acquiring some tolerance in my middle age. 

"Nahhh," I told her.  "Feel free to shop anywhere you please."   

Target, Macy's, 7-11, Lloyd's House of Parallel Flange Indicators ... it doesn't matter to me, one way or the other. All of *my* holiday shopping will be conducted the same way it has been conducted for the past four or five years: in bed, in my Happy Pants, on my laptop. I did three-quarters of it last week, on the day after Thanksgiving: I'll finish the rest of it this weekend. If retailers want to start bombarding us with Christmas commercials two months in advance -- hell, if they want to bombard us SIX months in advance: a little Old Navy holiday fleece to go along with our Fourth of July iced tea, perhaps? --  I'm simply not going to allow it faze me anymore. These days, my rules of Christmas have been boiled right down to basics:

1.) No hazelnuts in my cookies.
2.) There are no other rules.

Life is just too damn short.  Where is it written that the holiday season has to be, too?

    

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besides: there are all sorts of OTHER ridiculous non-reasons to boycott target this year  ...
if boycotting is your thing, that is.
[personally, i prefer throwing eggs.]