The Tartan's plea against Christmas music in Nov.
Every year, we end Halloween with satisfaction and sugar. Children go to sleep with full stomachs and chocolate-stained fingers. Parents take buckets of candy off their porches. Teenagers wipe gory makeup off their faces. Adults stumble home from Halloween parties with their capes dragging across dirty concrete and their feet wobbling in shiny plastic boots before they collapse gratefully into bed.
Then, while everyone is sleeping, something terrible happens: the calendar flips to Nov. All around the world, employees cue up the store playlist. Somewhere in the distance, Mariah Carey cackles as her reign begins anew. Come the morning, Christmas music will return to stores, a full 55 days before Christmas.
Of course, not all stores play Christmas music in Nov. But it’s widespread enough that people take notice. It has become the subject of jokes and memes, as well as a topic of controversy and debate. There are people who embrace Christmas cheer wholeheartedly and would start playing Christmas music in Oct. if they could get away with it. There are others that bemoan poor, unappreciated Thanksgiving. Some people seem ready to bludgeon everyone within a mile radius if they hear the slightest jingle of bells.
The problem is not with Christmas music itself, which can be a diverse and enjoyable genre; the problem is its ubiquity and context. If you want to listen to Christmas music on your own time, whatever. That’s your choice. But when stores start forcing the music on unsuspecting customers, that’s when it gets truly annoying.
Holiday jingles are annoying. They're overplayed, which makes it harder to appreciate. The first time you hear "All I Want for Christmas is You," you might sing along. The next couple of times, you might bop your head. The next thirty, you listen in silence. Eventually, when you inevitably start reaching the hundreds, you find that "All You Want for Christmas" is some peace and quiet. When you can’t curate your Christmas music experience, iconic songs become grating within weeks. By the time Dec. rolls around, you might get sick of Christmas music altogether.
Another problem is the intention of these stores. Stores don’t play Christmas music simply because they love the season. When people hear Christmas music, they think about the Christmas season. They think about the parties they have to plan, the food they’ll have to cook, and the presents they’ll have to buy. With their responsibilities pressing down on them, they may be inclined to spend more at the store. Yes, the Grinch was right: people celebrate Christmas for selfish and financial gain.
Additionally, despite the widespread cultural impact of Christmas, it’s still a Christian holiday. Some of the music is focused more on snowy hills and warm fireplaces. But for every "Let it Snow," there are dozens of songs explicitly mentioning Santa Claus, Christmas, and ol’ Jesus Christ. This can be frustrating for those who don’t celebrate Christmas. The idea that “Christmas is for everyone” does not erase the religious origins but rather ignores other religions and the people who practice them. People already have to deal with seeing flashy Christmas lights and mangers everywhere. The least they deserve is some nice, calming, secular music while they shop.
Finally, some people may not be thinking about justifications for why Christmas music shouldn’t be played in Dec. For some people, it’s just plain annoying. There's no deeper reason behind it, and that’s valid too.
This opinion actually isn’t that uncommon. According to Consumer Reports, 23 percent of people dread seasonal music. A Research Intelligence Group poll from 2014 found that 36 percent of people say they left a store sooner because of it. Additionally, in the same poll, 58 percent of people say they believe Christmas music should only be played in Dec.
Disliking Christmas music before Thanksgiving is not a niche opinion. Yet stores continue to cycle through their festive playlist, turning us all into Scrooges one jaunty rendition of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" at a time.
Of course, Christmas music in Nov. is not a crime. It’s not hurtful. It’s not offensive. It might not even be the most annoying thing you endure in that store, considering that other customers still exist. However, it’s still annoying enough to have an opinion on it. And we will hold onto this opinion fiercely, no matter how hard Frosty the Snowman tries to pry it from our cold, dead fingers.