Back off, Santa!

November 20, 2009, 4:49 PM UTC

I was riding in a taxi the other day. The driver had the radio on. I don’t like to tell drivers who have their radios on to turn them off. First, if it’s not too loud, I figure it’s their home for 10-12 hours per day and they have the right to establish their own environment as much as possible. I used to drive a cab, briefly. It wasn’t much fun. A lot of waiting. A lot of aggravating. Bad money unless you work ungodly hours. So if they want to listen to their favorite station while they sit and honk and fester, I’m sympathetic. I also think that if you poke the wrong taxi driver, the guy could turn around and blow your head off. There’s that.

So we’re riding along and I realize there’s something strange on the radio. What is it? Could it be? Yep. It’s Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas.” Hm, I think to myself. Did I go to sleep and wake up in December? I looked at my BlackBerry. Nope. It was indeed still mid-November. Bing concluded his crooning. There was a short pause. Then Mel Torme piped up to tell me that chestnuts were already roasting on an open fire. I rolled down the window. It was 62 degrees in New York that day. The Halal vendor at the corner of 53rd was dispensing chicken, but there wasn’t a chestnut in sight. Most people were walking around without coats. By the time I got to my destination, the Andrews Sisters were welcoming Santa Claus, who apparently was as confused as I was, and was coming to town a month and a half early.

Look, I don’t know about you, but as far as I’m concerned Christmas is not Ramadan, which lasts for a month, nor is it Lent, which takes a full 40 days to run its course. Even in the Middle Ages, the holiday extended no more than 12 days, taking into account all those lords a-leaping and toads a-creeping or whatever. A few years ago, I noticed that the holidays were starting immediately after Thanksgiving, on Black Friday — a shopping institution that premiered as a marketing concept in the mid-1960s. But mid-November? Why not right after Labor Day? Why not immediately post-Memorial Day? Why not have the season of shopping and giving last all year round?

I realize the retail sector wants this to be a great return to materialism after the last bummer years. But personally, I don’t want to see Santa and his minions until there’s a little snow on Rudolph’s nose, or hear about the first Noel until we’ve all had the time to kill a billion turkeys. Then the gloves can come off and the herald angels can start shoving all those bargains down our throats full throttle.