The holiday exhaustion seems to be setting in sooner than usual this year. Yep, it's not even December and I've heard several people already say they can't wait until Christmas is over.
I enjoy the holiday season. I really do, even if I can't always manage to get into the spirit.
This is a time of year to be thankful for what we have, spend time with family and remember the ideals of peace on earth and goodwill toward men. And, if we happen to have a few movies and a trip to see some festive light displays, then so be it.
There are many parades in our area, with colorful floats, holiday music, dancing and, of course, Santa Claus. There are parties, activities for the kids and lots of other things taking place locally.
To me, that's not what brings us down about the holidays. All of those events are to be enjoyed by the entire community, and usually are.
I think a lot of the exhaustion is because of what we do to ourselves in the name of the holiday season.
It seems as if we try to start this very festive time earlier and earlier each year. It's no wonder, really, that we are ready for it to be over before we are even half-way through November.
In September, a friends posted a photo she had taken of an inflatable Santa Claus and reindeer set up inside a local big box store. Now, I understand there's an opportunity for a lay-away program, but at that point the Halloween decorations had barely been up. Not to mention that under the inflatable jolly guy, there were stacks of flower pots on the shelves.
I've walked into stores and businesses which have been playing Christmas music for two weeks already. I enjoy a little holiday tune during the season, but it doesn't feel right to hear it until Thanksgiving.
Growing up, it wasn't officially the Christmas season until Thanksgiving day, specifically it began at the conclusion of the Macy's parade as Santa Claus rode into the camera's view and the confetti began falling from the surrounding buildings of New York's 34th Street.
Now, of course, we are even starting the "holiday shopping season" early.
As we all know, this year many retailers began offering their Christmas specials Thursday evening dubbed by many as "gray Thursday."
Despite spreading the deals out from Thursday night into Friday morning, there were still crowds roaming many stores, and even a few criminal acts from those who were trying to make sure they were able to get their hands on those couple of items they felt they absolutely had to have.
I understand there are those hot items many wish they could get, whether it be a special toy or a shiny new gadget, but is it all really worth getting arrested because you punched someone, hid something in your coat or tried to use a stun gun on another shopper?
I understand that no one wants to disappoint a loved one, but have we really become that self-centered and materialistic as a nation that we have to hurt others to get something that will probably be considered useless in a couple of years?
Starting all these sales early may have provided more time for people to do their shopping, but it also provided more time for the mayhem and madness of Black Friday to take place.
We need to take some time to step back and remember what this season is supposed to be about.
Volunteers for the Salvation Army are out early this year to raise money for the less fortunate. It's because there are even more people in need today than there were in years past and more money is needed to help them.
We have people who can't afford to put a big dinner on their tables on a regular night, let alone a holiday.
There are those who will have trouble keeping their homes warm with the cold weather we are now getting.
And yet, we are standing for hours in long lines and fighting over some little trinket.
It used to be the only gifts someone might get for Christmas was a piece of fruit or maybe some chocolate in their stocking, and they were fine with it.
They didn't need the new video game or the latest Smarthpone or tablet device. And they certainly weren't going around hurting each other because someone got the last of something.
I know the idea of Black Friday and getting the Christmas items out helps the retailers, and I'm all for supporting our businesses, but we can do that and remember what this time is supposed to be about.
It's peace and helping others, not greed and hurting them.
(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)