“Where did you see the purple Transformer motorbike you want for Christmas?”
“Oh… in my head. When I was dreaming.”#ChristmasChallenge
— Juliette Giannesini (@Xiaozhuli) November 25, 2016
— Juliette Giannesini (@Xiaozhuli) December 4, 2016
The name of the store is “Tinseltown Christmas Emporium” and it’s located the far end of Hintonburg, just east of the intersection where Somerset Street West meets Wellington Street. Several two-meter tall wooden nutcracker soldiers stand guard in front of the deep red storefront. The display windows are so crammed with trinkets and ornaments that you can barely see inside but it looks like if you push the door, a pile of winter icons, Santa Claus, bells, candles, candy canes, garland, stockings, wreaths, snow globes, and angels will fall on you. It reminds me of a small-town bazaar, as described by Stephen King in his novels. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these Christmas characters came alive at nighttime.
Walking by this year-round Christmas store is a strange experience when it’s definitely not the holiday season. You can’t help but slow down and find the strong Christmas scent—a mix of cinnamon, orange, nutmeg, cloves and vanilla—slightly eerie. “Oh right… it’s that store,” I remind myself when I suddenly smell Christmas in the middle of August.
So many questions come to mind every time I walk by, on my way to Chinatown. Who wakes up one morning and decides to focus all business activities on December 24 and 25? How does this highly-seasonal store stay open when dozens of billion-dollar companies, including Target, declare bankruptcy? Rent isn’t cheap in this slightly hip neighborhood; how many candy canes do you need to sell to cover it?
But now, I think I get it. It stays in business thanks to Christmas nuts.
Among the people who celebrate Christmas, religiously or secularly, there are two teams. Team one starts dreaming of Christmas as soon as the weather gets cooler, checks the weather channel compulsively to see if a white Christmas is on the way and starts shopping before fall even starts. Team two is more “the only thing I want for Christmas is not hear about Christmas before December.” I’m on this team. I sigh when Halloween monsters are replaced by jolly Santa on October 31 and I’d be happier if stores played The Tragically Hip rather than Christmas Classics performed by big names who were probably paid a hefty sum to sing about Rudolph.
The “Christmas creep” phenomenon is getting ridiculous in North America. Technically, Black Friday is often the official start of the holiday shopping season. But “the holidays” start earlier and earlier every year. I get it, November isn’t a fun month—the weather sucks and we celebrate dead people or soldiers fallen on the battlefield. But do we really need Christmas two months before D-Day?
As the designed Westerner™ of the family, it’s my job to work on Christmas traditions for Mark. This year, I decided on the traditional Advent Calendar and a letter to Santa.
On December 1, I was finally ready to acknowledge Christmas.
I’ve been teaching Mark reading and writing 101 (he can “read” a few words, and write a little bit) and he is very proud of his skills. So am I… after all, he just turned four. So this year, the letter to Santa was his job.
— Juliette Giannesini (@Xiaozhuli) November 24, 2016