What are we celebrating again?

I went shopping recently at Walgreens and Kmart, I was looking for Thanksgiving napkins. It was Friday before Thanksgiving – a good 6 days before the holiday for which I was shopping. I was baffled to find not a single Thanksgiving item at Walgreens and only one measly cart at Kmart.  Instead of Thanksgiving fare, these national store chains had opted to begin the Christmas season early. In place of turkeys and pictures of bountiful harvests and Fall, there were inflatable Santa’s and images of a Winter Wonderland.

I guess, it was the Winter Wonderland that did it for me… but suddenly my cynicism  was running full steam.  Who decided that Puerto Rico was the place to sell Holiday decorations illustrating a Winter Wonderland. What exactly do these stores believe I am celebrating. How is a Puerto Rican Christmas even remotely related to a snowman?

This is a perfect example of how consumerism, run a muck ends up obfuscating completely the very simple reason for coming together. In places where Winter may still serve as a watered down safe shorthand for Christmas it may not be obvious this season, but here in Puerto Rico this watered down safe celebration now makes not an ounce of sense.

Rather than promote a huge anti-Christian conspiracy, I think it is easier to suspect and believe that the decisions made business sense somewhere. Several executives found the logic smart. I can also suspect the purchasing director is in the Continental US.  The decision making process probably looked something like this:

  1. Choose holiday merchandise that has the most crossover appeal. Generic and yet reminiscent of the Christmas Holiday get us: snowmans, snowflakes, candy canes, and maybe decorated pine trees. I believe the formula they used was:
    Christmas Season + Generic – Religious = Winter + Festive Generic Decorations
  2. Start the Season early to extend the sales boom as much as possible.
  3. If you are going to include Christmas icons, make them hip (ergo, Santa on the motorcycle)

With this in mind, I looked hard to find a picture of a Nativity Scene and found not a one in either store.

At a time when we often hear the plight of the little guy trying to keep his store open in the face of the big nationwide chains. I think the decision is clear: I will be doing my shopping in my corner store, the one that is locally one, where the family that runs it is well aware of local traditions and is not afraid to sell religious items for a religious holiday.