As I approached one of my local Starbucks® stores, I espied something red and silver hanging on the inside of the glass door.

“Oh no.” I thought, “It couldn’t be.” But it was.

I entered to find a fine array of Christmas merchandise and decorations, including Gingerbread Lattes, Eggnog Lattes, Tazo® Chai Eggnog Lattes, Peppermint Mochas, Cranberry Bliss® Bars, Holiday Gingerbread, and of course, Starbucks® Christmas Blend coffee. I was somewhat irritated. It’s still nine days before Thanksgiving!

To be honest though, I guess I hadn’t been to a Starbucks® store in a few days, because the official Christmas offensive kicked off on November 10. The operation, known by its codename “The Red Cup”, is intended to make sure you purchase all of your holiday coffee, coffee accessories, pastry snacks, and music CDs at your local Starbucks® store.

It seems like Christmas gets shoved down my throat a little earlier each and every year. I know I had seen Christmas displays at Lowe’s Hardware, and at Costco, before this, but that hadn’t triggered the same irritation that I felt in Starbucks®. I guess I just assume that Lowe’s customers needed to assemble their Christmas decorations ahead of time, so that they would be ready to be put up on Thanksgiving. As for Costco, well, it’s virtually its own independent Republic of Consumersylvania, and can follow whatever schedule it wants. Plus, if I saw that Costco was selling Christmas lights in July, I probably wouldn’t bat an eye. That’s just Costco.

No, what I resent is the creeping and not so subtle commercialism that gets worse every year, and comes a little bit earlier every year. I don’t WANT Christmas goodies shoved in my face yet. I’m not ready for it. I understand that a significant percentage of your entire yearly business gets done in the Christmas season, but that doesn’t mean I want to make it Christmas year-round.

In contrast to my cranky reception of the season at Starbucks®, however, I was not bothered a bit by the recent arrival of the official Christmas tree at Pioneer Courthouse Square:

It always looks goofy when they bring the tree in, because it’s bare of branches more than two-thirds of the way up the trunk. After they set it upright, a crew bolts the severed branches back on in an aesthetically pleasing arrangement. It gets decorated, and then the mayor throws the switch to turn the lights on. And I don’t mind it. I love the way the Pioneer Courthouse Square area looks at Christmas time. They have lights in all the trees, and all the store fronts get decorated. It’s probably my favorite time to be downtown. The air is crisp and cold, and people are smiling.

So no, I don’t begrudge the appearance of the city tree before Thanksgiving, because it is a genuine harbinger of the things about Christmas that I like, while the carefully arranged Xmascellaneous crap at Starbucks® is the vulture perched over Santa’s weakly struggling body, just waiting for him to expire.