November 15, 2013
(Alexandra Petri/The Washington Post)
(Alexandra Petri/The Washington Post)

If there’s a War on Christmas, Christmas is winning.

I’ve touched on this before. Insofar as there is a war, it’s not on Christmas. It’s by Christmas on everything else. Poor Thanksgiving has been run over roughshod. Now even Wal-Mart employees are being fed dinner and obliged to stay at work for that day, otherwise known as Black Friday Eve.

That’s why I am a vigilante.

I am a rogue. I am a bandit. I am a Thanksgiving Warrior.

I thought perhaps they’d wait a day or two for us to lick our Halloween wounds and recover. I was wrong.

The day after Halloween I saw a “Tech the Halls” sign hanging in a Radio Shack window. In CVS, the Halloween chocolates were already being replaced by the Christmas chocolates. Over the radio, Burl Ives’s dolorous warble had begun wending its way to our ears. They weren’t playing around. They were marshaling the troops.

And I was sick and tired of it.

Sick and tired of the colors and the carols and the trappings. Sick and tired of the Vivid New Takes on holiday music and holiday eats. Not sick of the Starbucks seasonal beverages yet, because I am only human, but surely getting there. How was it this time of year already? Wasn’t it just days ago that I was writing last year’s column about the Ineluctable Christmas Creep?

I was sick and tired of the vision of myself, decades from now, with my dependents gathered at my knee, asking me on a chill night around the customary pre-pre-Christmas-shopping turkey what I did in the Christmas Wars.

“Why, nothing,” I will say. “I stood there and watched as they came for Thanksgiving, and did nothing. Then they came for Halloween, and I did nothing then either, still resenting Halloween for the year when it fell on a Thursday and swallowed the whole week in a hideous maw of constant costumes. Columbus Day was abandoned already when the Christmas shock troops got there, and by the time they reached Labor Day they were rolling holidays up like it was nothing. Fourth of July put up a valiant effort, but they got it, too. Red, White and Blue bowed to the Red, White and Green. Then they rolled up Easter (bafflingly enough), April Fools and the Ides of March, swallowed Valentine’s Day without a second thought, rechristened New Years the 6th Day of Christmas, folded their arms, and settled in for a long winter’s nap. ‘The economy depends on this!’ they insisted. ‘Christmas must be country-wide! Christmas must be year-long!’ ”

“Shh!” my children would say. “It’s time for the hourly broadcast of Pop Artists Covering Carols, followed by the 89th screening of ‘The Sound of Music,’ both the original and the NBC Carrie Underwood version.”

No, this vision ate at me. It ate at me like every vision eats at Scrooge. I could not sit by and let this happen. I had to go to war.

I armed myself with Post-it notes, on which I had written “IT’S NOT THANKSGIVING YET!” as legibly as I could, and set out. Briefly I fantasized about adding a turkey costume. I would dub myself Gobbler Justice.

My catchphrase would be: “Turkeys can’t fly, but we sure can flyer!”

“Look,” everyone would say. “There goes Gobbler Justice!” Or, more probably, “That obese headless C-3PO looks drunk.”

But then I realized that the turkey costume would not arrive before Thanksgiving, thus defeating my stated goal. I had to go to war without it.

War is, so far, Hell, as I’m sure Gen. Sherman wrote on his postcards home. Once I was armed, I noticed foes everywhere. There was a store promoting Holiday bath scents. The next was displaying a Christmas tree in its window. In mid-November! Everywhere you turn, Christmas goods and items are multiplying exactly the way my Twitter followers aren’t. Bookstores have the holiday shelves primed and ready. Get your stocking stuffers! No. Not yet. First the stuffing of the turkey, then the stuffing of the stocking.

Is this so hard? Why are we focusing on the secularization of Christmas? I would feel more sympathetic if Christmas would get off my lawn during the first week of November. This has gotten so dire that Hanukkah and Thanksgiving are attempting a merger this year, to see if an alliance will allow them to withstand the Christmas onslaught. Or possibly it is just a vicissitude of the calendar. Either way: Good luck, friends! But I think the horse is already out of the barn, or the reindeer is out of the reindeer-housing area, or whatever metaphor we have decided to use.

Holiday music blasted into my usual coffee shop, sleigh bells a-jingling. Sleigh bells are the mayonnaise of holiday music — they find their way into everything, whether you asked for them or not, and they make most things worse. On my TV set, people were already showing you exactly what Intricate Diamond She Deserves This Year.

“Bah!” I shouted. “Humbug! It’s Not Thanksgiving Yet!”

Now I know how the Grinch felt. The only difference is that I am right. My heart is exactly the correct size. I’m not trying to stop Christmas from coming. I just want it to stop coming so prematurely. I love Christmas, within its national borders. But outside them — I flyer on sight.

Once you start your vigilante career, it is difficult to stop. Red and green are everywhere you turn. You sticker around with wild abandon only to discover that you have falsely maligned several logos that are that color all year round and a couple of innocent fir trees that cannot help the way they look. Also, in your efforts to be subtle and not have the management at Starbucks escort you from the building after you pelted the entire building with the notes that were its due, you had to pretend you were there for the promotion and somehow wound up buying a stranger an eggnog latte. All in all, the war is going just about as badly as might be expected.

And it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! We still have weeks to go.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.