A classic example of this relates to how we never give ourselves a chance in life to simply sit back, pause for a moment and just take a breath. We have set up of lives as a society in a way that we just can’t stop for anything or anyone. When one event or occasion passes we scavenge its remains, discard it and then immediately look ahead to the next one. There are defining moments throughout the year that accentuate this point and one classic example occurs right now as we say good bye to October and hello to November.
Before I go any further I want to be clear that, like most others, I enjoy all the holiday and festive seasons we have established throughout the year. Each and every one of them has aspects that I both enjoy and look forward to. However there is no better example of not being given a chance to breath than when we see what happens during the overnight period between October 31st and November 1st. Just as soon as we’ve tucked our little Diego’s and Dora’s in for the night and said goodbye to Halloween for another year, the countless mall and retail minion’s are busy preparing to blast our senses with the all out two-month assault that is known as the Christmas shopping season.
At the risk of sounding a little Ebineezer-ish here, give me a break! Maybe it’s just me, but it’s my opinion and belief that over the past few years the gap between Halloween and Christmas has become shorter and shorter to the point where the changeover is now instantaneous. It seems that little concern has been given to the physical and/or mental fatigue that October presents to most of us. Canadians actually celebrate two occasions in October when you also include Thanksgiving, and I think some of us would prefer a period of time where we can pause and not have to plan or prepare for anything at all. This rapid changeover has created problems that perhaps were not anticipated by all the retailers who are too immersed in ritualizing the next upcoming occasion, and to me this also clearly defines what November has become.
What we see nowadays only emphasizes the point that was made by Economist Victor Lebow way back in 1955 when he critically noted that the North American economy was set up this way. He famously said: “Our enormously productive economy…demands that we make consumption our way of life that we convert the buying and using of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction in consumption…we need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate.”
Its all about getting rid of the old and bringing in the new, and I’ll sadly admit that my family is susceptible to its allure, despite my hyper-sensitivity to the harsh realities and dangers associated with conspicuous consumption. My wife is responsible for the majority of purchases that involve anything for my 4 children. She likes to begin Christmas shopping in November but each year the tightly-set budget is challenged right out of the gate. While on the way to the mall to buy Christmas gifts, she notices that leftover Halloween costumes from this year are being cleared out. While she agrees buying a costume isn’t necessary now, how do you say no to 80% off?!
Another issue is candy. Send four eager kids out on Halloween night and a pretty big haul is virtually guaranteed. However there just doesn’t seem to be a way to eat the stuff fast enough before some good natured person starts delivering the holiday boxes of Ferrero Rocher and other Christmas treats. It’s challenging enough for my wife and I to keep the kids from leaping out of the car this time of year when we drive by a Toys R Us or other holiday inspired location. However when you combine their enthusiasm with the abundant, and not always controllable supply of sweets in circulation, along with its accompanied sugar rush, we literally need NASA engineered harnesses to keep them restrained.
Admittedly I can appreciate how for some, this quick turnaround is welcomed since it tends to impart festive sprit into an otherwise unpleasant time of year. After all, I did write an article no long ago ranking my personal preferences with regards to the months of the year, and November came in dead last. But, having said that, as we look out at all of the rotting pumpkins on porches and walkways that will soon be accompanied by various Christmas decorations, we may want to consider squeezing in a couple of days in between, just to disconnect the seasons.
I truly believe that an antidote to the affliction known as Seasonal Connected Disorder would provide all of us a much needed and well deserved break, and would allow us a bit of time to think of nothing but our families and ourselves. I would think that this is an antidote that all of us should be more than willing to take.