I have been guilty of whining about Christmas advertising starting too early. "Christmas didn't start until after Thanksgiving when I was a kid." I would grump. But that is not true, not true at all. For me and my siblings Christmas started the day the Sears Christmas Catalog arrived, and that arrived in September or early October. It actually might have arrived earlier, but it is possible Mom and Dad tried to hide the thing for a few weeks. The Sears Wishbook, as it was called, spurred more than a few battles over who got to peruse it first. My favorite gambit was to wait for my brother or sister to set it down for a moment, and then disappear with it into the bathroom for however long it took. Something I continued to do years later with the National Geographic.
The front of the catalog was for my parents. Boring crap like sexy Sears negligees for Mom, wallets and watches for Dad, and slippers and sweaters for both of them. Wasted paper and ink in my childhood opinion. Further on were the pages where my parents got the crap that caused consternation on Christmas Morning. Underwear, socks, pajamas, things I didn't think I needed at such a festive time. Nearly two hundred pages in, the toys finally started. First the girls toys, but then, finally, boys toys. I would carefully circle the toys I expected "Santa" to bring me, making sure my mom couldn't miss them. Cost, complexity, age appropriateness, none of those things were a problem. Hell, Dad worked two, sometimes three jobs. He could... oops, I mean Santa could afford it. Even if there was no Sears Christmas Catalog, the holiday would start in September anyway. The shows we watched every day after school were inundated with toy commercials. So face it, Christmas started the day you put away your white pants, belt, and shoes. One day it's summertime, and the next day it's Christmas. Funny thing though, about all those toys I circled in the Sears Catalog, on Christmas Morning I forgot all about them. I was too busy ripping open those brightly wrapped packages and finding that I had got some really neat things I never even thought about having. Unfortunately, that also included socks and underwear.