Flipping the wall calendar over to October a couple of Sundays ago, I fell victim to the usual question, “Where did this year go?” It just doesn’t seem all that long ago that 2017 commenced, spring began, grass-cutting season arrived and Vinton had its annual bean dinner. You think about it for a moment or two, then move on. But then you turn on the noonday television news and a local channel runs a promotion for announcing school closings in severe weather — that is, winter. Hold on. We’re talking about coverage of cold and snowy conditions when the leaves are (mostly) still on the trees, daytime temperatures exceed 80 degrees and it’s not even Indian summer?
It’s the same thing when you go into the stores. Halloween decorations and doodads are on the shelves and aisles right after Labor Day, and Christmas stuff is jockeying for space with trick-or-treat items. All of this occurs, seemingly earlier and earlier, before we turn the clocks back an hour for daylight savings time. So why the rush? Why can’t Halloween paraphernalia be out as October opens and not before, and the sights and sounds of Christmas wait to fill our senses after we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving?
The answer to these questions, on the commercial end, arise from the need to get the merchandise out there for people to buy, then allow stores to be re-stocked as often as possible in the weeks prior to the event. Such action becomes critical for retail operations fighting increasing competition from online shopping services. Because it is appealing to obtain these items from a store right now rather than wait for delivery of an order. That’s why places like Halloween City USA or something like it that I checked out some years ago at the Huntington Mall tend to thrive, or once did. Interestingly, as soon as Halloween was past, then some of these temporary outlets renting an empty strip mall space transform themselves into Christmas Day USA or something of that ilk. Businesses of that nature, dollar stores and the bigger places all recognize that what the public wants must be met and as early as possible to stay viable as they feel the bite from Amazon and similar rivals .
Okay, we can accept that explanation, just as Black Friday shoppers expect their favorite big-box store to be brimming with huge-ticket products they can buy at a limited-time discount. Presumably, they are getting their gift purchases out of the way early and can enjoy the Christmas season, either personally or spiritually. And getting stocked up on lights and decorations some weeks prior to Dec. 25 isn’t a bad idea. I might add it was my father’s routine to hit the nearby Big Lots back in New York during the week after Christmas to buy the next year’s adornments when they were practically being given away.
Nevertheless, there is a sense of time passing more quickly than we imagine. Much of this is attributable to busy lives prompted by duties to family and work. That’s also why the local TV and radio stations begin touting their expertise in predicting weather. People do want to know that after a nightly snowfall or worse, are the roads passable and will the kids have to go to school? The sooner they know where to access this information, either from broadcast or online sources, the better for all concerned.
Still, if you’re like me, I just don’t want to contemplate such eventualities as snow, ice and then high water when the other two thaw out. Not when the heat of summer fades, replaced by comfortably warm days and agreeably chilly nights, when the wintertime gear can stay in the closet for another month or so. Perhaps even longer, depending on those conditions that dictate our weather. No, I’d rather just enjoy autumn’s delights while they last.
Of course one of the primary reasons that these reminders of time passing is in my entering a sixth decade of existence when mentally, my arrival in Ohio as a college student in 1977 seems only like last week. That, my wife Beth tells me, is a sure sign of age catching up with me. Am I worried there isn’t enough time to get everything done I hope to accomplish? Maybe. Am I concerned about squandering all the years and opportunities I had? Sometimes. But I’d rather give thanks for all of the positives that have happened. I take the approach that age is merely a number, your mind should stay young and what time we each have left be spent as usefully as possible.
And perhaps that’s why the days and weeks seem to disappear so swiftly. Who notices time when they’re busy? You be the judge.
Kevin Kelly, who was affiliated with Ohio Valley Publishing for 21 years, resides in Vinton, Ohio.