Posted by Nicholas at November 21, 2007 12:05 AM
Why does the Christmas celebration start earlier every year? The commercial reasons are obvious; many retailers do a significant portion of their business during Christmastime, so the sooner the sleigh bells ring, the happier stores are. This year, retailers are said to be worried that gasoline and home-heating prices are poised to soar, so they hope holiday shoppers will spend before that happens. But there is a deeper reason Christmas starts earlier each year: We want to live in the Christmastime world, and this has nothing to do with religion. In the Christmastime world, children are happy, family is gathered round, and all the year's exhausting and stressful overwork has at least led to a pile of presents. Candles are lighted, and we listen for a sound in the distance. Just as our ancient ancestors must have dreamed of living always in the moment of the harvest, we want to live as long as possible in the moment of the holidays — regardless of faith, since Santa comes to everyone. Christmastime also evokes the strongest positive memories of most people's childhoods — of presents, singing, anticipation, and the adults forcing themselves to get along. The Christmas weeks are the time we believe all is right with the world, whether or not we actually go over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house. We want to enter the time of believing all is well, so every year we push up the start date.
Gregg Easterbrook, "TMQ: Cover Them!", ESPN Page 2, 2007-11-20
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