Shop clerks this week have been saying ” Happy Holidays ” to me . I parrot ” You too ,” or “Happy Holidays ” in response . But I don’t know what holidays they mean . Thanksgiving was last Thursday . Christmas comes around in about a month . Is it some Jewish holiday that I am unaware of ? What holidays do they mean ? All of them ?
Is it ” holiday season ” ? If it’s holiday season is it de rigueur to say ” Happy Holidays ” whenever the urge strikes . Is it part of the prescribed store clerk courtesy to have to say ” Happy Holidays ” to every customer ?
I suppose , now that I’m retired , holidays have lost some of their character for me . Every day is a holiday for me . They used to be holidays from work . Now ? Holidays used to be some hope of a little time off . But now none of that at all .
Maybe ” holiday season ” now means ” shopping season ” . What is called Black Friday began this year on Thanksgiving Thursday. There were more sales on Black Friday this year than last year . Statisticians broke it all down statistically . The media reported all the stats as if someone cared . The people who make a living charting the stats are , no doubt , waiting for a few holiday days off .
Local grocery stores are already selling Christmas trees , though only the artificial ones so far . When I was in Best Buy yesterday I heard Bing Crosby crooning Christmas songs . My next door neighbor has put up his Christmas lights already . Multi- colored lights are blinking along the edge of his roof . His step ladder is still set up in his front yard . Next come the candy canes in the front yards up and down the street , I guess . Meanwhile , Santa must be warming up his reindeer , stuffing his pipe , checking his sleigh .
I think the Hollywood Christmas Parade is already done . I saw a photo in the paper . Maybe the photo is from last year , though . The Monrovia Christmas Parade is coming . Always on a Thursday , my pool night .
We are always surprised , Bill , Willie , Dan , and I , as we approach the pool place that day and find no place to park . Inexplicably , streets are blocked off , crowds line the street in front of the pool hall , cops and police cadets wave us off . Bill rolls his window down and tells the cop , ” But it’s our pool night !” The cops don’t care . We end up having to park several blocks away and wade through a crowd of excited kids and parents . Members of the high school band are tuning their instruments . Hawkers are selling glow sticks and cotton candy . Everyone is waiting for Santa Claus . He’ll be along later , we hear .
We have never seen Santa there . We always half-intend to go outside when he goes by . When we eventually emerge Santa is already gone . The crowds are gone . The temporary street barriers and patrolling cops have gone . Tim , the pool hall owner , says , ” You guys got no Christmas spirit ” .
” Did you see Santa ? ” I ask him .
” Course !” Tim lies . He never moved from behind the bar all evening .
” O.K. , then what does he look like ? ” Willie asks Tim .
” Like he did last year ,” Tim says . ” One or two more wrinkles ,” he adds .
As we pass a city maintenance worker on our way back to the car , the guy says ” Happy Holidays ” to us . He is a heavy guy with a white beard and he is wearing a red suit as he sweeps up parade trash . No one dares say ” Thank you Santa ” , but we are all thinking it .
” Happy Holidays to you , too !”