Business

An Open Letter to Walmart: It's Too Damn Soon to Be Pimping Christmas!

These photos were taken inside a Northglenn Walmart on October 15.
These photos were taken inside a Northglenn Walmart on October 15. Photo by Michael Roberts
Dear Walmart,

I love Christmas as much as the next guy. More, probably, because the next guy looks like the kind of person who insists that you include receipts with presents you give to him, so it'll be easier for him to return the ones that suck.

But I also feel that the commercialization of Christmas is currently way more out of hand than when Linus van Pelt first dropped biblical verses on the American public — and you, Walmart, are making things worse.

As exhibit A, I offer my visit this past weekend to one of your branches in Northglenn, where I discovered that a huge portion of the store is already devoted to Christmas.

click to enlarge
Photo by Michael Roberts
Giant inflatable decorations. Row upon row of Christmas trees. Aisle after aisle crammed with wreaths and yard displays and Yuletide gewgams of every description, as seen in the photos I've included here.

What's wrong with that?

Well, you may not have looked at a calendar lately, but today is October 17. Yes, October 17, more than two months before the day set aside to commemorate Mary's blessed event.

click to enlarge
Photo by Michael Roberts
Once upon a time, the Christmas season kicked off on Thanksgiving, with the appearance of Old Saint Nick at Macy's famed parade in New York City serving as the de facto moment of launch. But it's still two weeks before Halloween, for Christ's sake.

Yes, Christ. Christmas's namesake. You've heard of him, right?

Oh, you have — because you're selling things with him on them, too.

click to enlarge
Photo by Michael Roberts
Right now, people should be concentrating on choosing that perfect costume for October 31. Slutty witch, slutty pirate, slutty nun, whatever.

And, yes, your Northglenn outlet boasts a Halloween section, complete with Eeyore onesies hanging in such a way that it looks as if Winnie the Pooh's favorite depressive donkey has been beheaded. But a lot more of the available space is dedicated to a festive occasion that won't happen until the end of December.

Granted, the store I visited is mammoth. It could probably house multiple 747s with room to spare. But the area set aside for Christmas is as big or bigger than plenty of actual businesses along the 16th Street Mall, with merchandise piled a good ten or twenty feet high in some places.

click to enlarge
Photo by Michael Roberts
This isn't a culture-war rant — a stealth way of suggesting that "Happy Holidays" should be made the national season's greeting from here on out. Say "Merry Christmas" all you want. Stamp it on your forehead alongside a tattoo of the baby Jesus wearing a Santa hat. That's fine by me. But don't start clobbering consumers by hard-selling Christmas in October.

Even for believers, two months-plus of Christmas pimping is too much.

The constant encouragement to buy, buy, buy not only pressures folks to spend beyond their means, whatever their means might be. It can also cause resentment over a celebration that should be about joy and family and peace and goodwill but is more often focused on implying that even the Three Wise Men couldn't resist the markdown on that new candy-cane-toting Christmas Yoda, not to mention his scarf-wearing Dalmatian pal.

click to enlarge
Photo by Michael Roberts
If going whole-hog on Christmas before Halloween is okay, what's the next holiday boundary that you'll breach? Labor Day? The Fourth of July? Easter? And once you've pushed ahead of those dates, what's to stop you from promoting Christmas year-round?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

So please, Walmart, show a little restraint.

click to enlarge
Photo by Michael Roberts
People are still going to spend money at Christmas if you hold off until November 1, and you'll still make a mint from the twisted yet widespread belief that the more items cost, the more the family and friends you give them to will think they're loved. And if you don't, I may just take my business to Target.

Which probably has Christmas displays up by now, too. But I'm going to pretend otherwise.

Sincerely,

Michael Roberts
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts