I was at the counter at Wal-Mart yesterday (yes, Wal-Mart. Wanna make something of it?) buying gift cards for my in-laws (and there's a whole comedy routine right there, I'm sure) and I had an odd experience.
I was next at the counter after waiting for maybe three minutes, the person behind the station I was at was organizing some returns she'd just processed, and after a minute she looked up, apprehension in her eyes, and asked if she could help me. I said "well, yeah, but I can wait for you to finish what you're doing."
Big deal, right? I sure didn't think so. But the other cashier immediately commented to me and to her customer how nice I was being, and the customer also said she'd just been thinking how nice I was being.
I was mildly embarrassed, especially at the degree of appreciation I was getting, and it did strike me that they must have been having a pretty hard day --- which is no surprise either, as this was the first day things were open following the Blizzard of '06. Cabin fever is not pretty and the desperate need to get back on track for Christmas wasn't helping.
All in all, though, it just strikes mke the whole Holiday Season is just unreasonably difficult for pretty much everyone. So here's my plan:
We take a couple of months off, first of all.
Starting in March, if your Social Security number ends in '0', Christmas is on March 25 and New Years Eve is March 31st. If your SSAN ends in '1', you have Christmas on 25 April, and New Year's Eve is the 30th. And so on.
Think of the advantages! The crush of the holidays is replaced with a little rush at the end of most months. We get January and February off from the whole thing, which makes it much easier on people like me who more or less want to hibernate during the Big Dark anyway. Demand is spread out and retailers no longer have to plan their years around one big season; companies can start doing their product announcements whenever something is ready, instead of waiting for the Christmas Season.
We can kill off the month of Hallowe'en and Valentine's Day promotions --- or at least Hallowe'en, I guess they could still push Val's Day. But the whole rest of the year is the "Christmas Season".
Only downside I can think of is that stores will want to play Christmas music all year. But I have a plan for that too: any retail operation that plays Christmas music more than five minutes in every hour will be burned to the ground, and the store managers drawn and quartered in the public square.
For a first offense.