“And include a pause, can’tcha?” I may be old. Some may call me a fuddy-duddy, even. But I like my holidays one at a time, with the slightest pause between so that one’s breath can be caught. I’m sitting as I type this korner, yet just a while ago was feeling a bit of breathlessness not due to exercise. What caused this random lack of sufficient oxygen episode you may ask? Simply put, merchandising.

I don’t work in a store. Except for a brief stint at a convenience store/gas station many years past, I have never worked in a store, and thus do not have a clear grasp of what retail merchandising scheduling includes. Oh sure, everyone knows the grocery store ploy. The milk, bread and other more necessary items are always shelved at the back of the store, leaving the more tempting items to be meandered through as we hapless shoppers wend our way to the nether reaches for that gallon of 1% and loaf of rye that I get. It’s really the overlap in holiday items that disturbs my lung function.

Just today (Jan. 3, as I tap the keyboard on my laptop), I made a brief stop at several local shopping sites. My eye was caught by Valentine’s Day “stickies,” heart-shaped boxes full of chocolates, candy hearts, Valentines — you know, cards, the things made out of paper — and pencils with heart-shaped erasers. Heart-shaped balloons. Sparkly, bright-red, shiny, paper-like material. White stuffed animals wearing big red bows. Egad, thought I, my home coming clearly to my mind’s eye. My home, with its still standing, still needles on it, although a bit dry, fully-decorated Christmas tree, ceramic Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus perched beneath. My home with a small Nativity scene outside (Joseph’s light refuses to come on, but Mary and the baby Jesus are A-Ok). My home with a small Nativity atop the entertainment center in the living room next to a ceramic Christmas tree with working “bird” lights on it. My home with two stockings (empty now) still hanging from the fireplace mantle. My home with Christmas cards decorating the door casings. My home that looks a lot like Christmas and a bit like New Year’s, but nothing like Valentine’s Day! Oi.

As I wheeled my cart to the back of the grocery store for some 1% and a loaf of rye, mindlessly tossing miscellaneous items into my cart from the more tempting shelves while gasping for air, I counted people for whom schmoozy cards would be needed, the number of windows in need of stickies, and wondered if anyone I know is planning a sugar purge come mid-February. But as I approached the checkout and was forced to pay attention, I noted I’d managed to pass the Valentine’s goodies by, and my oxygen intake returned to a more normal level.

I fully realize the calendar can have something to do with the holiday overlap thing. Thanksgiving can be later in November some years, as it was in 2019, leaving a shorter prep time between it and Christmas. But we who don’t own stores or retail outlets don’t really need to sweat the merchandising stuff. We can simply allow all holidays to come in at their appointed time and breathe easy. We can trust that the brick and mortar stores, as well as the online types, will have what we want when we want it. This means I don’t have to grab those shiny red baubles not needed for six more weeks right now, do I? Whew, what a load off.

However, don’t get me started on the catalog industry. If one will not be cruising to a place with beaches, sunshine and drinks with tiny umbrellas inserted, especially those who live in the northern climes, one should not be receiving glossy images of swimsuits while clad in longjohns and a Stormy Kromer. That is a low blow, even for those of us who don’t wear swimsuits, since our union suits and warm hats and mittens will be with us until quite probably April, if not May. A low blow indeed. And snap! A rant for another day.

(Copyright © 2020 APG Media)

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