Every year, the clock strikes midnight on Halloween and suddenly everyone is walking in a winter wonderland. Stores rotate out their holiday displays, people start putting up their Christmas lights and the candy in the grocery store checkout aisle suddenly has a lot more peppermint. Most of these changes are understandable and acceptable. What isn’t acceptable is the compulsion to change the radio dial over to Christmas music before Dec. 1 even arrives.
People often argue that Christmas festivities starting up too early cuts into Thanksgiving. But that’s not the problem here. Thanksgiving activities are pretty limited. There are no Thanksgiving songs. You don’t bake Thanksgiving cookies or hang Thanksgiving lights. The only good Thanksgiving movie is “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” What starting Christmas up too early actually does is make Christmas annoying by the time it arrives.
I’m not unreasonable. I get that people only have so much time to get their Christmas shopping done, and store displays will reflect that. I get that it’s better to string up lights when it’s 30 degrees out and not negative 30. I even get people feeling in the Christmas mood as the weather turns bitter cold. But the music is something I can’t tolerate.
Christmas music is fun. I’m not a Grinch who grits his teeth when Mariah Carey belts out “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” I’ll throw on Michael Bublé or Dean Martin’s Christmas albums when the season’s right. I even like “Wonderful Christmastime,” the bane of holiday shoppers everywhere, and consistently voted one of the worst Christmas songs in seasonal polls. The music isn’t bad: the timing is.
If the Christmas playlists start up in November, all the hits will become grating by the time Dec. 1 arrives, let alone the actual holiday. The fact is that there’s just not all that many Christmas songs—any sufficiently long playlist will be filled with different artists’ covers of the same dozen well-worn hits.
If you search “Silver Bells” on Spotify, you’ll find hundreds of versions by artists like Stevie Wonder, Elvis, John Legend and many others. This isn’t a bad thing— there’s value in tradition, and the songs get covered over and over because they’re good songs. But it does mean that the Christmas playlist can get a bit stale if it’s not listened to in moderation.
I like Christmas. I’d like to continue liking Christmas. We need to all agree on a reasonable date for full-fledged Christmas festivities to begin. I think Dec. 1 is reasonable, but I wouldn’t reject a deal that sets the date right after Thanksgiving.
Do your holiday shopping early. String up the lights before the frost sets in. But please, save the music for later.