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Christmas chimes a little early - Johnny Jackson

Christmas time is here again. Yes, already.

Two Sundays ago, in September, I found myself in a department store walking about the normal clutter of fabrics and fragrances when I came upon this Christmas display -- a nicely arranged, red-and-white, gleaming wonderland at the center of the store. With fake snow lying about the frosted fir trees.

It was 87 degrees outside and almost exactly four months before Christmas Eve. The first day of fall, and the time hasn't even changed yet. And there it was, a Christmas display perfectly built in the center of a store with no ghosts or goblins to be found.

I suppose it is a sign of the times. Between all the toy and food recalls, perhaps the store can maximize its profits by starting out on the holiday season a few months earlier.

The commercialization of Christmas has been an issue stretching the fabric of American society since the "Miracle on 34th Street."

I don't know whether things have really changed so much over the years, in terms of Christmas. I remember, as a kid growing up, really forgetting about the holiday until I started seeing it in stores, which was typically around Thanksgiving, and maybe a week or two before.

On Christmas Day, I remember being satisfied with any little thing I got. A block of wood, I think, would have kept me entertained until Disney's annual Christmas parade. Though our parents always got us what we wanted, which was not too much, apparently by today's standards. It was just the indiscernible magic of the time that made us smile and our parents smile in return.

Our parents would be up late the night before (Christmas Eve) hiding away gifts for the next day's Christmas visits, then taking turns wrapping presents and pre-cooking our Christmas dinner. Meanwhile, the kids were busy watching Christmas specials (later football games) on television.

The parents, though, would get a couple of hours of sleep before heading out for the 5 a.m., sunrise service at church. They'd be back sometime shortly before we all awoke from the sun crashing through our frosted, bedroom windows.

We'd wake up and begin a day's worth of things like the late 10-course lunch with extended family, and the visits around town to family friends. By day's end, we'd be exhausted, drunk on non-alcoholic eggnog and full of turkey and ham.

That hasn't changed much. My parents still stay up late, cooking and wrapping. And they still attend the early sunrise services at church. And we (forever the kids), on at least that day, are still the lazy gluttons watching it all happen and appreciating it.

The stores may already be capitalizing on the holiday. But if the holiday means anything to the merchandise-hungry, all that we see in stores is worthless until we experience that magic of Christmas Day.

While I understand the sentiment in starting "the season of giving" early, at least give the season another month before decking the halls.

Johnny Jackson is the education reporter for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at jjackson@henryherald.com or at (770) 957- 9161.