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This season would be merrier if it were shorter

POSTED: November 10, 2008 5:00 a.m.

How much Santa time do we need?

I got a notice this week from a big mall that Santa has arrived. I think the reason Santa arrives so early is for snooty little mamas to go and look at him and compare him with Santa at another mall to decide which one is the best-looking Santa.

Before we got past Halloween, several stores had already put up Christmas decorations. Christmas is now reaching the point of being as long as political campaign season.

It wasn’t that long ago that Santa arrived on the Friday after Thanksgiving, usually atop a fire truck or in a helicopter. You had about four weeks to get a little face time with the Jolly Old Elf. This was ample time to visit Toyland and see what you wanted to ask for and then go and stand in line for your chance to sit on Santa’s knee.

In the early days, I didn’t care for Mr. Claus. This is evident in the photo of my brother and me with Santa at Sears, Roebuck & Co. My brother is smiling that fake smile that kids smile when you tell them to say “cheese.” I, on the other hand, am bawling and clearly want no part of this Santa stuff.

This, by the way, has no bearing on my call for a shorter Santa season.

I realize that retailers are struggling and are willing to do just about anything to get people to come in and spend money. But is it really necessary to bring out the tinsel and garland in October?

I went to New York on Christmas Day a few years back and was surprised that Bloomingdale’s had taken down all of the Christmas stuff by the morning after. I had been there on a previous visit and had marveled at the beautiful Christmas decorations. It’s interesting that they will put the holiday garb up by November and then yank it down the second Christmas is over.

Can’t you just bask for a day or two in the afterglow of Christmas?

The same thing is true for radio stations. They’ll dust off the Andy Williams records (I just dated myself; radio stations haven’t played vinyl records in years) sometime this month. But at one minute past midnight on Dec. 26, Andy goes back on the shelf and they start playing Miley Cyrus again.

If the new president, whoever he is, asks me for my opinion, I would suggest that the Christmas season begin at Thanksgiving and end on New Year’s Eve.

I know that overlaps with Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, but I think there is room for all of it.

This year, Hanukkah overlaps Christmas. It starts at sundown on Dec. 21 and continues for eight nights.

Here’s an easy way to remember: By Dec. 25, the menorah will be half lit. The same will be true for some who really celebrate Christmas.

The night after Christmas is the first night of Kwanzaa. I’ve never known anybody who actually celebrates Kwanzaa, but if you do, I sincerely wish you well.

If Santa is going to come to town early, so be it. I’m going to see him this week and suggest that all of you get a copy of my new book, “Sweet Tea and Sweet Jesus,” which is coming out soon. That certainly will make my Christmas merry and bright.

Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times. His columns appear Wednesdays and Sundays.



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