Shopping. On a Saturday. On Dundas Street West, edging through Chinatown to get to TenRen’s Tea shop to see if it carried a special tea thingy: a tall double-walled glass tumbler with a self-contained tea strainer to hold loose tea. It’s a handy and well-designed accoutrement for those tea-sipping or slurping types who do not like tea bags in ugly mugs.
Saturday is not a good day to shop. Sadly, the gods of parking were against me and offered up a parking spot right on the street, a two-minute walk from the tea shop.
TenRen’s is one of my favourite tea shops. It carries all sorts of Chinese teas and tea pots and tea cups and a few plastic tea tumblers. It did not carry glass ones. But not carrying the thing I was looking for did not mean I left the store empty-handed. Oh no. It does not work that way on a Saturday. Ever. You see, there were samples of tea to try. All of them wonderful, all of them crazy expensive. All I wanted to do was leave the store, because while tasting tantalizing, terrific teas and trying to listen to what the woman was saying about the teas is fine, there also happened to be something that was setting my spine on edge: awkward music in the background. Not just any music. Christmas music. By some sort of no-name singers. In a speciality Chinese tea shop. In November.
It was not loud, but I have superhero hearing and can name that tune in two notes as well as the singer so as you can imagine, that Christmas music was painfully distracting.
It took 23 Christmas songs, six tastings complete with stories about the tea and $58 Cdn. to get out of that store.
Then, on the way back to the car, it seemed only right to pop into a shop with huge signs that said Going Out of Business. Maybe the shop had glass tea tumblers.
Guess what? It did. But it also had Christmas music. Bad Christmas music. Or rather, Christmas music, badly done.
I was antsy and headed out into the noise of the crowded street, and walked the 15 steps to my car where there just happened to be a beautiful dog standing with her owner beside my car. She was a Husky — the dog, not the owner. Her name was Luna and after a minute of petting her, the angst of Christmas music badly done evaporated, and my breathing had returned to normal.
But it perturbed me, this too early for Christmas stuff. It had bothered me a bit ever Christmas stuff starting to appear in stores about a week before Hallowe’en. That’s just wrong.
I know retail is hard-assed about merchandising, but does that mean retail sets the schedule? Chunking up of the calendar year into seasons of shopping is past the point of being out of hand. It’s just plain nuts. Now, we have Christmas in July ads and promotions. Maybe it isn’t shopping that’s the addiction, it’s spending — proof of purchasing power — power being the operative word, because even if it’s borrowed power, the rush of it is still there.
Some economists would have us believe that consumer spending will lead us out of the depression we’re in — nationally, globally and personally? (It won’t.)
But I digress.
By early November, here in Toronto, we get Christmas pollution: lights, sounds, smells, visuals. Hearing Christmas music by some anonymous singers in a specialty tea shop pushed me over the edge, out of my comfort zone where I live in the do not say anything political world and into the realm of covert, take-no-prisoners activism. I am fed up: I’m going militant. No more pushing retailism, debtism, get-more-stuffism, out-doing-the neighbourism. No more.
Don’t know how I am going to do it yet, but I am going to start a campaign to get a by-law enacted: no Christmas music, no Christmas print ads, no Christmas TV or radio or internet commercials before December 2nd. Christmas in Toronto doesn’t need advance notice: people know when it is, even people who are not of that faith.
And in my new militancy, there will be a price to pay for non compliance: failure to adhere to the new bylaw of no Christmas music, decorations or ads before December 2 will result in a payback to the community; however, there will be heart and spirit to the bylaw. The offending business will have a choice about how the fine will be used:
- to cover the cost of providing food for 50 families over Christmas,
- to provide winter coats for women and children in shelters for abused women, or
- to cover the veterinary costs of sterilizing cats and dogs 10 local animal shelters.
Betcha the noise and visual pollution will end faster than any of us can sing a Christmas song. I’ll keep you posted on my progress of the Too Early for Christmas by-law.