FRIENDS AND FAVORITES
Have Yourself an Ambivalent Little Christmas
The Golden Age of Spam
Will the Real Renaissance Please Stand Up?
My Life of Crime
My Life of Crime, Pt. 2: The War of the Dandelions
Black (and Blue) Friday
How Not to Celebrate a Holiday
Traffic Report Fall Down
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O, Holy Weekend
You Mean My Vote Actually Means Something?
Lessons for Hurricane Preparedness as Taught By Example in Raleigh, North Carolina
You Mean My Vote Actually Means Something?, Pt. 2: Are They Gone Yet?
The Last Reality Show
It Builds Character
Sink the Flu
WTF (in C Major)
Kneel before Za
I Got Your Breaking News Right Here, Pal
Christmas in July...or April...or maybe even December
Why I Hate "The Little Drummer Boy"
Christmas in July...or April...or maybe even December|
As you know, it is the first week of November. This of course means that Christmas season is in full swing. Maybe I'm just paying more attention this year, but it seems to be stronger than most years. The malls, of course, have had their decorations up for weeks; that's nothing new. But grocery stores are already selling Christmas candy. (I suspect they simply took the leftover Halloween candy and put it next to Christmas decorations, but it's still the first time I recall seeing Christmas candy so early.) Although it hasn't happened locally (yet), there's a radio station in Atlantic City, NJ that started playing non-stop Christmas music in mid-October. More interestingly, one of my co-workers has a Christmas-themed jar full of candy at her desk. I've even seen a couple of houses that already have Christmas decorations. This sort of pre-Veteran's Day Christmas spirit is hardly new among companies, but now ordinary people are getting in on the act.
It is also, of course, roughly one year before a presidential election. Thanks to a wide-open Republican field and a pissing match between various states over how early they can hold their primaries and caucuses, it's less than two months until the first caucus. The first Republican presidential debate was six months ago. Do the math, and you'll find that if you use the first Republican debate as the "official" start of the 2012 election campaign, then the campaign is going to last for more than eighteen months. Keep in mind as a I say this that before you could have the first debate, you had to have enough candidates to have a debate. People often complain about the length of political campaigns, and it's not hard to see why. But there's nothing that can be done about it, right?
Well, not quite. If your interest in politics extends beyond the borders of your home country, then you probably know that they use different electoral systems in other countries. In many countries, there is no set time table for elections. Instead, at some point someone will put forth a motion in parliament to have elections (either the ruling party because they think they have a good shot at holding onto power, or the opposition parties because they think the ruling party has a bad chance of holding onto power), and if it gets enough votes, new elections will be scheduled for a few weeks later. And it really is just a few weeks later: earlier this year in Canada, it was about 38 days. That is, for those keeping score at home, less than one day of campaigning in Canada for every two weeks of campaigning in the United States. Sounds good to me. And the reason it works this way is that it's hard to begin a campaign when you have no idea when the elections are. Even when that day is over a year away, just knowing when it is means you know how to pace your spending just enough to stay in the limelight while keeping enough in reserve to get serious later. But when election day could be anywhere from five weeks to five years away, it's not so easy.
If you hang out on political message boards (and I don't recommend it), then every once in a while you'll encounter someone saying we need to switch to the system they use in other countries. It's an interesting thought, but it's not what I'm here to talk about that.
Remember what I said about Christmas season being too long? I have an idea for that. If making election day unpredictable makes the campaign shorter, then making Christmas day unpredictable could make Christmas season shorter. No, silly, I don't mean unpredictable in the sense of "What sort of embarrassing gift has Aunt Christy got the kids this year?" We've already got that. I mean unpredictable in the sense of not knowing when it will be. I propose we let someone (I haven't decided who...the pope? the President? the CEO of Wal-Mart? I'm open to suggestions) have the authority to declare when it needs to be Christmas, with the rule being that the announcement must be made six weeks before the actual day in order to give everyone time to make travel arrangements.
Some of the purists among you might be bothered by the idea that we're moving around one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar. But Easter moves, right? And please don't say "We can't move Christmas because Jesus was born in December", because pretty much every Biblical scholar will tell you that nothing in the Bible supports such a claim. The fact is, no one knows what day Jesus was born, and Decmeber 25 was picked because back in the Third Century the Romans already had a nifty holiday around then and the Christians figured it would make the transition easier. We could have Christmas any time we wanted and it would be just as accurate as what we're doing now.
The more business-minded among you may be saying that it would make it more difficult for the stores, but you're looking at it wrong. Remember what I said about election day being anywhere from five weeks to five years? That's not a joke. Elections can be very frequent (Britain had two in a span of eight months back in 1974). If there can be more than one election in a year, there can be more than one Christmas. Think of the boon for the stores! Think of the boon for children!
And speaking of kids, they'll be better behaved this way. No more of this acting like a defiant little shit from New Year's to Thanksgiving, and suddenly being the epitome of grace and kindness. The threat of Santa watching will be felt 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Parents might even be willing to make good on the threat of Santa not bringing anything if they know there's a good chance the kid will have another chance in a few months. Do that to a kid one time, and he'll be obedient for the rest of his life. Emotionally scarred, but obedient.
Yes, there will be adjustments. Songs about winter wonderlands may or may not work at Christmas, and the Christmas tree farmers will need to be better prepared so that they can have fully-grown trees at any time of year. But these are minor points, and we'll find a way around them. The Australians have Christmas during their summer (apparently a common day-after-Christmas tradition in Australia is surfing), and they manage.
It'll all be worth it to reduce the number of times you get subjected to "The Christmas Shoes" on the radio. That alone will justify all the inconveniences associated with this.
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