Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Merry Labor Day?

I wasn’t surprised to see the Halloween decorations out in full force when I went to the local Sprawl-Mart during the Labor Day weekend. But I had forgotten that this is also the traditional start of Christmas shopping, and that the clerks have almost four months of electronic caroling to endure.

The never-idle Mart-Elves evidently had been busy moving out the yard and lawn-care stuff to make room for the animated reindeer, rotating Santas and other gimcrackery of the Yuletide. (Not that there’s much need for yard stuff here in the Southeast’s Dust Bowl, where the average temp for August was 86-plus degrees, the hottest average monthly temp for any month, ever, with no rain).

However you feel about the four-month Christmas merch blitz, one thing is for certain – while America has broiled and flooded through an awesomely rough summer, its truckers spent those torrid months delivering Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas goods by the 53-foot load.

(I purposely left out Hanukkah and Kwanzaa from this list because they typically have far less merch associated with them than these three highly materialistic occasions. Which, given the supposed unimportane of material goods in Christianity, makes one pause to reflect. But I digress.)

In the publishing world, we often work months ahead, so we start seriously thinking about the end of the year along about early June. The same is true for many drivers – the companies have already ordered their holiday items early this year, and the factories began churning them out in time for distribution and warehousing in the summer.

I first learned this when, some years ago, I did some work for a company whose Tennessee factory made lawnmowers in the winter and snowblowers in the summer. Kinda like living on Australia time, I guess.

Putting it into that context, it makes it (slightly) less annoying to see ready-to-assemble pre-lighted trees stacked up next to barbecue grills and charcoal (on sale!).

So to all you drivers who started delivering holiday cheer in July, I hope you had a Merry Labor Day! That you got some time off, and spent it smoking some steaks in the backyard. Now get back to work: After all, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.