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What’s This? Christmas in October?

The Nightmare Before Christmas

In 1993, Walt Disney’s Pictures and made a bold move creating a movie that combined Halloween with Christmas. The result became Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. In the film, Jack Skellington from Halloween Town stumbles into Christmas Town and exclaims “What’s this?” in amazement. Through song he exclaims:

In here they’ve got a little tree, how queer
And who would ever think
And why?
They’re covering it with tiny little things
They’ve got electric lights on strings
And there’s a smile on everyone
So, now, correct me if I’m wrong
This looks like fun
This looks like fun
Oh, could it be I got my wish?

(Walt Disney Pictures)

While the movie is a stop-motion fantasy, many of us are living in it right now. Just this week while strolling through the aisles at my local Kohl’s store, I heard the sounds of Christmas music playing in between other songs while I watch employees put up Christmas displays. And online, they already have a special Christmas gift page offering “a safer, easier + more rewarding gifting experience.” (Ironically, the store I was in still had some Christmas items from last year on clearance!)

Sharing Hope Ministry has been celebrating “Christmas in October” for years with their annual gift shop. The annual event hosts over 100 vendors and boasts of having the “largest bake sale around” and since they are located in Amarillo, Texas, it is not surprising. The event raises money to purchase Life Recovery Bibles and materials to women who struggle with addiction, adversity and crime. This is a great thing, but because of Covid-19, which doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, this year’s event, like so many others around the country, has been cancelled. (However, they are still accepting donations if you feel so inclined.)

Depending on your unique circumstances, this year has been anything from disappointing to destructive. Because of this, people all over the world have pushed the fast-forward button on the holidays.

In Sunderland, England, a local bar known as Vesta Tilleys has decorated its space with a Christmas tree, holiday decorations and the staff are wearing Santa gear. Why? “We wanted to bring Christmas forward as I fear these new regulations for pubs will mean some businesses in Sunderland won’t survive to see Christmas,” manager Louise Bradley told The Sunderland Echo. “I wanted to bring some positivity and lighten the mood…These new covid rules will really affect these people.”

They’re not alone. Back in March, NBC News reported that people across the USA had begun digging through their attics for Christmas decorations and lights to offer at least a distraction from our current situation. In August, MSN reported that some psychologists were confirming that people who decorate early for Christmas, tend to be happier folks.

“In a world full of stress and anxiety, people like to associate to things that make them happy, and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of the childhood,” says psychoanalyst Steve McKeown. “Decorations are simply an anchor or pathway to those old childhood magical emotions of excitement. So putting up those Christmas decorations early extends the excitement!”

In Seattle, Woodland Park Zoo has begun selling tickets to their annual holiday light show. This year, “Wild Lights” has been renamed “Wild Lanterns” which will open as early as November 13.

(Woodland Park Zoo)

Local stores and online shops are happy to oblige those who want to partake in the holidays early. In recent years, Amazon has held a special “Prime Day” sale event in July to boost sales. This year they decided to move the day(s) to October 13 and 14 to which MSN says is “now the official unofficial start of the holiday season.” Not to be outdone, dozens of other retailers including Target, Warmart and Nordstrom have been having their own sales. Some speculate that shoppers will buy early in fear that gifts will be scarce later on. Others say that these shoppers are using the sales as an excuse to buy something nice for themselves. Either way, you know that this will be the biggest Christmas shopping season ever.

And while it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around town, The Salvation Army is aware that there will be less red kettles to collect change for their efforts this year. Because of that, the organization has already begun sign ups for their Angel Tree projects and the kettles can rented to groups hoping raise money for their own events and when the bell ringers do come out, the kettles will offer contact-less options.

“We have looked at our numbers, we’ve looked at the projections of what’s happening, and so we have collectively said we need help this year to rescue Christmas,” Captain Jason Burns, the Central Virginia area commander told NBC29.

The airwaves will soon be filled with the sound of jingle bells too. Earlier this morning, NBC12 reported that SummitMedia, LLC in Richmond, Virginia had announced the radio station’s format change to Santa 100.9. Hosted by Santa and his elves, the station will be playing nothing but holiday tunes. If you live outside of Richmond, do not fret as many other stations will be following this trend soon.

On TV, networks are starting early with Christmas-themed programming. In fact, it isn’t clear if ABC will be airing their annual Peanuts special, It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. As of yet, the network has not made any official announcement. Meanwhile, Netflix will begin streaming new holidays movies as early as October 28 with the Emma Roberts film, Holidate. UPTV will start airing holiday movies on November 1 with A Very Country Christmas Homecoming. The Hallmark Channel, which aired a three-day Christmas movie marathon in March, will air a Countdown to Christmas preview special on October 23 and will begin airing their back-to-back-to-back movies beginning on the 24th with Jingle Bell Bride. As for The Nightmare Before Christmas, you can watch it right now on Disney+ or on the Freeform channel.

Main Image: Walt Disney Pictures

Jeffrey Totey View All

I write about arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.

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