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It happens every year… Immediately on the tail of all the Back-to-School sales, it starts.

What starts? The holiday madness of course!

I remember as a kid eagerly awaiting the time when the Halloween stuff would hit the shelves, usually not until the very end of September, sometimes even early October. It was an anxious time full of anticipation.

Now, that stuff seems to come out while the shelves are still full of the marked-down school supplies not yet snatched up in the annual frenzy.

Yeah, I’ve carped about this before. But this year, a trip to the local Wal-Mart (a place I visit only when there is no other choice) had me actually stopping in my tracks – thankfully, the incredibly large woman behind me, she who was pushing an already full cart, dragging along a small child or six, talking loudly on her cell phone and simultaneously rummaging through the suitcase that served as her purse, managed to avoid running into me. My bad. I should know better than to stop in that hell hole.

But I digress.

I had rounded a corner and come face to face with an end-cap display that featured charming, 3-feet tall, motion-activated, waving seasonal characters. Wanna guess?

Side-by-side, there they sat: a green-skinned, hook-nosed witch all in tattered black, toting her broom stick and waving a gnarled hand whilst emiting a chilling cackle and the almost cehrubic-looking guy in bright red velvet, sack tossed over one shoulder, black boots gleaming, gloved hand waving and rosy cheeks dimpled in an impish grin, chortling “Ho Ho Ho!”

Ah! This was too much!

A quick scan of the area proved this wasn’t an error. Nor was it a single instance of holiday mismatch. Nope. It was all over.

Green pine garland nestled next to black crepe.

Twinkly icicle lights shimmered beside orange, glowing Jack-o’-Lantern lights.

It’s all well and good to lament the over-commercialization of holidays. But this is marketing madness to an extreme, I think. If I start seeing New Year’s decorations and accessories before Thanksgiving, and Valentine’s frouf before Christmas, I may lose my sanity entirely.

And by the way – I happened to love The Nightmare Before Christmas – but this is not my idea of the ideal pumpkin carving:

I've heard of mixing metaphors, but...

I've heard of mixing metaphors, but....