COLUMN: How soon is too soon?

When retailers started playing Christmas carols on Nov. 1, was it too soon? The Facebook Nation weighs in.

The 2012 Christmas shopping season is already well underway at Cloverdale boutiques.

How soon is too soon when it comes to flaunting the Christmas spirit? For anyone attempting to weigh tradition vs. commercial realities, it’s difficult to gauge. Fortunately, it’s never been simpler to canvass public opinion.

Stampede Tack & Western Wear struck pay dirt last week when the landmark Cloverdale business asked its Facebook followers, “When is a good time to start playing the Christmas tunes in a store?”

“December 1st and no sooner,” Danielle Fransen wrote, voicing the majority opinion of commenters weighing in with their two cents.

“Not yet,” counseled Jacqueline Green. “You will drive your poor staff bonkers!!! My boss started playing all day Christmas music six weeks before… there are only so many Christmas songs… the repetition was crazy-making.”

It seems there is such a thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to Christmas tunes. Force the festive feeling too early, and it ruins it for people, and your staff are people, too, I feel obligated to point out.

“As a retail worker, hearing nothing but Christmas music for over a month makes the usual stress absolutely unbearable,” said Jo-Jo Reynen, who favours a mid-December start.

Stampede Tack turned to its followers for guidance after hearing about a national retailer who started playing Christmas music on Nov. 1, but pulled the Yuletide tunes after staff complained.

“So it got me thinking – when is the right time?” the page’s administrator commented down thread.

“Why play ONLY Christmas music?” wondered Kim Kelly, offering a welcome compromise to those oh-so-fraught weeks between Nov. 1 and  Dec. 25. “Can it not be shuffled in and get played more often as Christmas nears?”

“November is for Remembrance Day and our soldiers!” Harrumphed Nancy Berry, making a very good point, Stampede Tack agreed.

“Appalling before Remembrance Day,” added Bretta Deluca.

“Today!!! I never get too much of Christmas music!!!” said Gwen Litke Massie, adding a burst of infectious positivity to the mix.

Still, Christmas cheer aside, it must be acknowledged – seriously, and without snark – that not everyone looks forward to Christmas, for private reasons that may be difficult to reveal, and not because they are grinches or cold humbugs. Quite the opposite.

“For some of us, Christmas brings us sad memories, and when we hear Christmas music, it makes it worse,” said Deb Munroe. “Not everyone has a happy Christmas…. it is very difficult to go through the days.”

For me, Christmas stirs up PTSD-type memories of perilous journeys across thousands of kilometers of icy, snowy and dark highways. For more than a decade, I lived in northern B.C., but would venture south to family and old friends each Christmastime. Thanks to a four-wheel drive, cautious attitude, proper winter tires and plain ol’ luck, I’m here to whine about Christmases past to my heart’s content.

Speaking of my old haunting grounds, CBC Daybreak North posted this equally loaded question to its Facebook followers Nov. 5 – Guy Fawkes Day, for those keeping track: “When should people start getting ready for the holiday season? When is the right time to put on your holiday lights?”

“One month to Christmas, November 25,” said one northerner, voicing the majority opinion.

“I say it’s so much work, and I love it, so the sooner the better,” countered another. “Grinches can waste energy being grumpy…. I will be in Christmas bliss.”

Well, perhaps it’s time to take the suggestion of the following Christmas fan and northerner (they’re sensible people) to heart:

“I don’t see what they big deal is about when ‘the right time’ is. If you wanna put up your stuff on Nov 1st then so be it…or leave it till the last week before Xmas…is up to you.

“I personally don’t think there is a right or wrong time. I personally wait till December…but there are Christmas lights up and decorations on people’s homes and I quite enjoy seeing it all!”

So… let me be the first one to wish you glad tidings of the season. Whatever season it is!

Follow the Cloverdale Reporter on Twitter and Facebook. View our print edition online.