Unbelievable, I know, but I have already begun to hear Christmas music playing in stores and restaurants, and most oddly of all, blaring from an ice-cream truck. I don't know about you, but all this untimely jollity puts me in a decidedly "Bah, humbug!" mood. It was bad enough that they started around Halloween the last few years. Now, before all the kids are even back to school, before the calendar even officially recognizes Fall, it has begun.
All of this early cheer has a purpose, of course. Facing the prospect of another dismal holiday shopping season, retailers are trying their hardest to get us in the shopping mood. Should you feel responsible for jump starting the economy by shopping 'till you drop? I say no. Retailers will adapt by streamlining their operations and selling more affordable merchandise, or they will not survive.
Don't be pressured into buying by the power of suggestion. The best way to shop for Christmas, birthdays or any occasion, is to shop all year. Take advantage of clearance sales, retailer coupons, closeouts, and brand new merchandise at yard sales and flea markets. If you see some great bargains during the actual Christmas shopping season, great. If not, you can sit back and rejoice in the season, secure in the knowledge that you have a well-stocked gift box at home. All that's left is to listen to some free downloaded Christmas music and wrap your gifts (using recycled materials of course!).