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Ann Cannon: Christmas train leaves early and runs over people

Christmas used to be such a nice holiday back in the day when it came in December.

Oh sure. There was always a certain amount of pressure associated with the season. Presents to wrap! Cards to send! Fruitcakes to leave on the neighbors' porches when no one was looking! Mostly because you didn't want the neighbors to know it was YOU leaving the fruitcakes!

When I was a little girl, the season officially began on the first day of December. That's the day my mother brought out the old paper Advent calendar my Uncle Lewis and Aunt Dorothy sent us when they were stationed in Germany. Soon after, other decorations appeared. A Rudolph here. A wise man there. Eventually we bought a flocked tree and put some presents under it. Meanwhile, we listened to Firestone Christmas albums on the old hi-fi and watched "A Charlie Brown Christmas" on TV. Also, we made cookies and hid them from the dog.

By the time Christmas came we were ready.

Notice how I said we were "ready." Not "exhausted."

The problem with Christmas these days is that it's turned into a full-on runaway train.

Cut to a remake of "The Polar Express." Only this time instead of telling the heartwarming story about a magic train that picks up children and takes them to the North Pole, the movie shows a train running over the children's exhausted mothers who just cannot jump out of the way fast enough. Probably because they're loaded down with too many fruitcakes! Stupid fruitcakes! Meanwhile, the engineer (otherwise known as "Bad Santa") sings "Another One Bites the Dust" and slaps a decal on the caboose.

Christmas UNOFFICIALLY arrives in late August/early September. That's when holiday merchandise starts bumping elbows with ceramic Jack-'o-lanterns and resin pilgrims on the shelves in places like Big! Lots.

Christmas OFFICIALLY arrives on Halloween, which is when a certain local radio station (106.5) starts playing classic Elvis Christmas songs, which is why my girlfriend, Sally, recently had the experience of handing out candy to trick-or-treaters while listening to "Frosty the Snowman" and which is also why my brother's co-workers had their Christmas office party BEFORE Thanksgiving one year, just so they could "get it out of the way."

It's all too stupid for words. Something's gotta give. Seems to me we have two options.

FIRST OPTION: We take ALL the holidays from the Fourth of July through New Year's (including Career Ladder Day and Oktoberfest) and smoosh them into one Hulking Huge Gi-normous Holiday. We could name it Hulking Huge Gi-normous Holiday day, eat some festive Oktoberfest-type bratwurst, and call it a wrap.

Or we could follow the lead of my good and generous-hearted friend, Marilyn Thomas, who died this spring.

Marilyn used to work at a doll store in Trolley Square. Dolls! Christmas! What could be a more natural fit? But while other merchants were busy putting up their decorations long before Thanksgiving, Marilyn steadfastly refused. I still remember her reasoning.

Remember how hard it was to wait until Christmas morning when you were a little kid? Well, I think it's mean for the grownups to raise a kid's hopes too early, and I'm not going to do it.

Come December, though, Marilyn always had that doll shop decked out from top to bottom in holiday finery because, honestly, she did love the Christmas season.

Especially when it was celebrated during the Christmas season.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: We need to make an Official List of the Best Holiday Films ever. E-mail me your choices (along with a brief explanation) or mail them to me in care of the Deseret Morning News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, UT 84110.


E-mail: acannon@desnews.com