Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Staying Ahead of the Curve

"Clearance Sale"

The craft store advertisement catches my eye.  I've been thinking about hanging wreaths from my windows this year.  I've always admired the classic, festive adornments on the homes of others.  With wreaths 50% off, this might be the year to dress up the facade of my own house.  I brave the traffic for a trip to the strip mall and head toward the store in anticipation and excitement.

I'm picturing the finished scene in my mind--maybe some plaid ribbons to hang the wreaths?  And of course a cheerful, lush red bow on each one.  Then Paul can get some flood lamps to spotlight the windows.  Oh!  Maybe I can get a candle to rest on each sill.  I wonder if Michaels sells candles...Ideas are still multiplying in my mind as I step inside the store.  Abruptly, the joyful scene in my mind is replaced with the scene before me: chaos.

This is the season of advent, which literally means "to prepare."  The liturgical calendar tells us we have four weeks to prepare for Christmas.  The staff at Michaels does not share this view.  In their opinion, mid-December is waaaay behind the curve.  They had their holiday stuff out in October, people!  Where were we?  The smart customers snapped up their shopping bargains on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Lights on their evergreens and rooftops have been shimmering since Thanksgiving. 

Those of us braving the store today are the hapless fools, lured in by signs of savings.   With Christmas still almost two weeks away, we are labeled procrastinators.  And let me tell you, the early birds got all those worms weeks ago.  Gone are the candles.  Gone are the lights.  And gone are the red velvety bows.  All that's left are some gaudy plastic poinsettias and a Charlie Brown tree made in China.

By mid-December, these folks are done with Christmas.  The reason they are having a Clearance Sale, people, is so they can clear their store of all this unwanted merchandise to make room for Valentine's Day crafts.  Undeterred, I poke around the half bare shelves and manage to find a few wreaths.  I'm not sure what I'll do about the bows yet--all they had left were a few faded maroon ones, which I left for another customer's buying pleasure. 

This morning I am walking the dog still thinking about my Christmas decorations.  I pass by a neighbor's home decked out for Halloween.  Pumpkins by the door step, window clings of black cats and skeletons on display through the glass, and tired, tattered ghosts blowing from the tree branches.  At first I think they just haven't gotten around to taking it all down.  Now I wonder if they are just trying to get ahead of the curve for next fall.

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