Another Holiday Tradition Bites the Dust
Oh, it’s been a long time coming, but it is now firmly established. “All Christmas Merchandise – 50% Off” read the banners, two weeks before Christmas. Well, why not? The merchandise has been out on shelves since August. Once back-to-school and Halloween are over, the shelf space really opens up for the Christmas goodies. By late September, Christmas has exploded on the scene; by November 1, it is inescapable.
FCE and I have enough Christmas ornaments, cards, wrap, back-up gifts, and decorations to last long into the next century, and I don’t need to shop for more. However, the other day I needed some jingle bells to tie on to holiday packages, and when the cashier rang them up she announced that they were half price. “Really?,” I responded, “I hadn’t noticed. Seems early this year.”
Holidays are times when nostalgia seeps under the doorways, through cracks in the walls, and out of every pore. People who are not all that sentimental year-round, give in to it at holiday time. I find myself missing a favorite holiday tradition.
When I was a working stiff, I always took a vacation day on December 26 (if it wasn’t a Sunday; Blue Laws in Bergen County outlawed my December 26 tradition if it fell on a Sunday). I would get up early in the morning, brave the cold, snow, sleet, ice, wind, and whatever else mother nature decided we deserved, and go to Bloomingdale's. Bloomingdale’s always had the best Christmas shop, and while everyone else started their Christmas merchandise mark-downs at a lowly 25%, the day after Christmas, Bloomingdale's dropped the big half-off.
Normally, I go to great pains to avoid crowds (3 or more people), but Christmas—and more specifically, the day after Christmas—is by no definition “normal.” Few men dared enter Bloomie’s Christmas Shop on December 26; it was packed with women buying better quality cards and wrapping paper at discount store prices, and perfect ornaments that two days earlier were unthinkably expensive. Shoulder to shoulder we rummaged through the brightly colored “stuff” that we would one day regard as “junk.” It was the first day of the next Christmas shopping season.Continued on the next page