Slow Down Santa

Slow Down Santa

My wall calendar, the one those nice animal welfare people sent me, reads “October.” My backyard tells me that fall has arrived: wet, brown leaves blanket pots of begonias, impatiens and petunias whose faded blooms are just waiting for the first frost to put them out of their leggy misery. And my closet is a sure sign that the season has turned darker and crisper. Coffee-colored trousers and suede boots rule the roost, while celadon linen and strappy, white sandals chill in the dreaded spare bedroom closet.

So, if autumn has finally arrived in all its glory, why does my mailbox tell a different story? Why does my mail distinctly say “December” and desperately warn me of the dwindling number of Christmas shopping days?

It’s just too soon. I haven’t bought my bag of snack-size Goobers for the pint-size Paris Hiltons and Sponge Bobs who will darken my door on Halloween, and now I’m behind on my Christmas shopping. Well, that’s what the stores whose catalogs come so regularly to our doors are telling me.

Every day, I sort through a growing collection of mail-order catalogs decorated with festive Christmas characters and cheerful messages about the holiday gifts that await inside. And what gifts they are! There’s Frosty the Snowman, rendered in brushed nickel, waving hello from a rough-hewn, made-in-China, Americana serving table. A porcelain coterie of Santa’s elves is holding up a platter heaped with red and green-iced petit fours. Burgundy-colored candles, each the shape and size of a spare tire and scented like Cranberry chutney, are glowing like a bonfire.

I get all kinds of catalogs: Brookstone, Harry and David, LL Bean, Neiman Marcus, Land’s End, Victoria’s Secret and, my personal favorite, As We Change. It goes on and on and on.

Catalogs are big business. We flip through them over breakfast, mull over merchandise while riding our stationary bikes and even read product specs in the master bedroom.

This year, more than 10,000 catalogs are expected to take in more than $133 billion in sales, according to the Direct Marketing Association. Fully one-half of that annual revenue may be generated in a few short weeks at Christmas.

If they can do that kind of volume in a few weeks, what would a few months do for the bottom line? More time equals more shopping and more money.

These traders of trinkets and trifles push us to rush the holly jolly while we’re still earning points for our free Thanksgiving turkey, not to mention paying off our back-to-school shopping bills.

Our lives are fast-forwarded enough. What happened to those wise, old adages, “One day at a time” or “Live in the moment?” The people who created those sayings never received glossy catalogs showing families romping through pristine snow with their genuine maple sleds — during an August heat wave.

I’d like a moment to savor swirling leaves and crunchy Macintosh apples, wooly blankets and football games, ginger snaps and cold milk. I’d like a moment, period. That’s as unrealistic as my snow globe of the North Pole.

But I must dash now. It’s time to carve my pumpkin in the likeness of Tom Cruise, soak my cranberries for the Thanksgiving feast, and address my Christmas cards. Oh yeah, I must give the mailman his holiday tip, too, just for lugging all those catalogs here.