For those of you who have been in a Walmart or Lowes or mall or department store of your choice, you have probably walked by a Christmas display and thought
It must have been just before Labor Day, early September, that I saw a stand of fake Christmas trees and thought “already?” Now, nearing the end of October the Christmas displays are crowding out the Halloween candy and costumes, and there’s no sign of Thanksgiving!
Has Thanksgiving been cancelled this year? How come I didn’t get the memo?
It is a sure sign of curmudgeonhood that one complains of the earlier and earlier commercialization of annual holidays.
“Why I remember when they didn’t have Christmas wrapping paper on sale until Christmas Eve – at 10 p.m.!”
“That’s nothing! We were too poor to afford a 10 p.m. We had to go from 9 to midnight directly!”
“You had a midnight? Whoa, you must’ve been rich…”
The real harbinger of the Christmas season, as we all know, is the daily arrival of catalogs. You’d think that LL Bean could send one catalog a week and spread thing out a bit, but, nooooooo, they think it’s better to send out 52 catalogs on one day.
Today, the Victoria’s Secret Christmas catalog arrived. Victoria’s Secret is a lingerie company that sells a strange mixture of exotic and practical “clothing” for women, although to be fair, they have a nice line of sensible pants, dresses, shirts and coats, not that I’ve ever managed to work my way to that part of the catalog. However, I’ve heard it’s nice. And practical. Did I mention practical?
Going through the mail it was, like, junk, junk, junk, bill, junk, bill, bill, oh-my-god-what-is-she-wearing?
“What’s who wearing?” a Voice from the other room said.
“Uh, we got a blender catalog from Wharing,” I offered hopefully.
“That’s nice,” said Voice.
“Nice isn’t half of it,” I mused, holding up the catalog for better light.
“What was that?” asked Voice.
“Uh, it would be nice to have it,” I was scrambling, “the blender from Wharing, that is. Nice. To have it. That is.”
You know, it was years before I realized that the Victoria’s Secret catalog was actually a catalog from which you could order real things. I mean, I saw the order form in the middle of the catalog, but I thought it was some kind of inside joke.
It was only when I left a bunch of catalogs out and asked the kids to circle anything they think Santa might, in his infinite generosity, deem appropriate to bestow upon them on Christmas morning, subject to approval, etc. Whatever.
That was the plan and among the LL Bean and Land’s End, Metropolitan Museum and Smithsonian suggestions was a single request from my daughter, light of my life, from Victoria’s Secret.
I didn’t even know what the thing was. Holding the catalog upside down didn’t help. I couldn’t tell if your wore it or painted it on. Yet, the price was right and in two shakes of a Victoria’s Secret model’s various anatomical bits, I ordered it.
It’s easy to understand why Victoria’s Secret can keep their prices so low. They save a bunch on shipping. I used to order hardware from Sears and the stuff weighed hundreds of pounds. It was made of steel.
Not so, VS.
The package arrived in a postage stamp that had been folded over. I nearly missed it in the mailbox.
“What’s this? A folded over postage stamp?”
Inside was the “garment.” Hmm, I thought, maybe I should have ordered a “medium.” It was like a microgram of fabric.
As I held it up I thought, well, it might fit a flea. A small flea.
Oh, well, at least it won’t need a lot of wrapping paper.
Christmas morning, daughter opened her tiny present with glee and anticipation. Holding the “garment” high for everyone to see she exclaimed:
“Oh, isn’t this pretty?”
Most of us looked away in embarrassment.
She paused. “Although, I might have to exchange it. I think it’s too big.”