Now that Halloween is over and the weather is getting undeniably colder, we Canadians enter the awkward seasonal pause that is November. Jack-o-lanterns rot on the porches of the lazy, at most, turned around to pose as a slightly more believable decorative pumpkin. The climate toys with the unprepared, snowing when they expect sun, raining when they expect snow and heating up to a balmy late-summer temperature for no good reason just after the winter coats have been cleared of moth balls.
Not only does the natural world enter a contradictory state, the indoor, man-made one does as well. Whether in malls, at school or at your favourite place to get coffee, the holidays creep in from the P.A. systems and special offers, slowly but surely. In only a few weeks, the season will be in full effect, which is arguably easier to handle than this seasonal ‘middle child’ with which we’re currently stuck, making its presence known in many fashions. Why not count the ways?
1. Holiday music
It’s subtle at first. While by December the stores of the Pen Centre will play Bing Crosby and Michael Buble non-stop, at this point the creeping holiday muzak is more clandestine. Even a week ago, instrumental music in The Bay could be heard featuring sleigh bells, a sly nod towards the impending season without being as blatant as playing the Justin Bieber holiday album. What’s worse, once the other shops get the balls to start forcing the holidays into your ears, they won’t even bother to coordinate. If you’re a savvy shopper who prides themselves in getting in and out of each store without loitering, you’ll be tormented with repeat iterations of one “White Christmas” to the next.
2. Sad and/or serious cinema
With the end of summer comes the last few blockbusters and buddy comedies, with room to spare before the latest Tyler Perry’s Christmas, Elf-wannabe or oddly-timed December 25 horror movie. The gap between the two is filled with the earliest of Oscar season contenders, bringing the general mood of movies to a cold dark place (kind of like the current state of our hemisphere). Whether scenery-chewing performances or (INSERT TRAGEDY PERPETRATED BY WHITE PEOPLE HERE) Oscar bait, November is certainly not the jolliest month for movie goers. That said, check out Nightcrawler, Interstellar, or, by god if you have the chance, Birdman. They may not put you in the spirit of the season, but that can wait.
3. “What was that thing you mentioned you really wanted a month or two ago?” “Why?” “No reason”.
Your loved ones, bless their hearts, can be a little obvious with their arguably late questions about what to get you for a gift this year. While the truly organized and forward-thinking (read: beloved moms and infuriatingly thoughtful significant others) jot down notes when someone mentions an obscure item they desire, the rest of us do our best to get the info, albeit a tad late. Give us a break, at least we remembered at all.
4. Food court frustration
As the earliest of the seasonal shoppers start their campaign for the best deals in the mall, the crowds can quickly reach an intolerable size. While the stores can be crowded, the till lines long and the item of the year low in stock, the real issue becomes sitting space. Benches are packed with spouses awaiting spouses and parents awaiting their kids outside a store. The grocery store has no end of cruising shoppers, but quickly runs out of carts, self-checkout machines and Candy Cane Crackle ice cream. The worst is by far the food court, packed to the gills with tired families and a myriad of fried foods. Finding a seat is about as easy as getting your hands on a Turboman in a ‘90s holiday film.
5. The war on Christmas
It’s not long after Halloween that some Fox news correspondent or local activist friend of your grandma’s friend on Facebook starts campaigning for the defence of Christmas. “Why can’t I say ‘Merry Christmas anymore?!?”…”They diversified our nativity scene! Shouldn’t the wise men and shepherds from the Middle East be white like me?”… “Someone put up a Festivus pole in my kid’s school!”. Other people exist, and yes, they may even have a more interesting holiday tradition than your usual binge on caramel and cheese popcorn while watching a Home Alone marathon. No one is attacking Christmas, end of story.
6. Seasonal specials
After only a week or two’s break from pumpkin spice anything, stalwart and stubborn coffee drinkers are bombarded with seasonally specific hot drink fads once again. Candy canes get stuck to anything with an iced surface, hot chocolate and caffeinated beverages get spiked with strong doses of peppermint and people eat it all up like some kind of festive crack cocaine. That said, despite how addictive cocaine is said to be, that’s likely one of the few items that wouldn’t sell better if mixed with a seasonal spice. Peppermint and pumpkin spice are unlikely to snort well.
7. “You smell like beef and cheese, you don’t smell like Santa”
We get it Buzzfeed, everybody loves Elf. Yes, we know the quotes. Yes, we think it’s amazing that Will Ferrell turned down a butt-load of cash to do a sequel. Yes, those are very nice gifs of Buddy that you’ve compiled in a list.
Obviously The Brocktopus can be too high and mighty in criticizing the master site of listicles (not to mention that this article itself is a pretty strong signal about the impending festive season), but Facebook feeds can get particularly insufferable by milking Elf-love during the pre-holiday season.
8. Saunas on wheels
As it gets steadily colder outside, the temperature inside any city bus will go up about twice as fast. Despite the fact that every passenger gets on in full winter attire, those driving the bus keep it at a balmy, sweaty tropic climate. Not that you don’t appreciate some heat after waiting at a stop for 10 minutes in late January, but for the early winter it’d be nice not to sweat off a few pounds on the trip up the hill.
Do you see the holiday season fast approaching? Do you love it? Do you hate it? Give us your thoughts and/or additions to this list on Twitter @thebrockpress or find us on Facebook!