Alan Jackson Getting Ready for Christmas

In a year soft on new Christmas music country superstar Alan Jackson will capitalize by re-releasing his Christmas album, Let It Be Christmas.

Jackson is celebrating his 25th Anniversary and this album is just another part of that celebration. He’ll be spreading Christmas cheer for country fans a little early this year since the album is set for an Oct. 27 release.

‘Let It Be Christmas’ is full of Jackson’s popular Christmas classics including ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,’ ‘Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town’ and ‘White Christmas.’ The album was produced by Jackson’s producer-pal, Keith Stegall, and will be out on ACR (aka Alan’s Country Records) and EMI Records.

‘Let It Be Christmas’ Track Listing:
1. ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’
2. ‘Winter Wonderland’
3. ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’
4. ‘Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town’
5. ‘The Christmas Song’
6. ‘Silent Night’
7. ‘Let It Be Christmas’
8. ‘Jingle Bells’
9. ‘White Christmas’
10. ‘Silver Bells’
11. ‘Away In A Manger’

Consumerist Calls Christmas a Retail Menace

Unreal. Consumerist is out with another ghastly news flash about Hallmark Christmas ornaments for sale now at CVS drug stores. While they acknowledge the fact that Hallmark introduces their new line every July the fact they are now for sale in a drug store is apparently too much for them.

Just what about retail does Consumerist really understand? Are they experts on the topic of retail or not?

Sales of Hallmark social greeting products are greater in drug stores than any other format of retail in the country. Greater than super stores, greater than independent retailers, even greater than Hallmark’s own shops. Upwards of $400/square foot is the average in social greeting products in drug stores. They are a huge market for Hallmark and a big benefit to retailers. Providing those products is what retailers like CVS call “customer service”.

What Consumerist doesn’t realize is that companies like CVS likely operate by contract with Hallmark and are under obligation to sell seasonal products on specific dates. We don’t know for sure but it is a safe assumption this is the case with two big national operations like CVS and Hallmark. They have operated this way for years and guess why? Because it sells. They are a “for profit” business and make no apologies for that.

Hallmark, by the way, has marketed their collectible ornaments in this fashion since the 1970s. In other words, this isn’t the first September Christmas rodeo for CVS and Hallmark. Why is Consumerist upset now to the point where they are calling this a “retail menace”?

Consumerist has long established itself as anti-Christmas. Why, we don’t particularly understand. More sales are generated thanks to Christmas than any other season of the year. It isn’t a short holiday such as Halloween or even back-to-school. It is a season, greater even than summer. Why does Consumerist hate it so much?

Why are they constantly calling out retailers for selling Christmas products at any time?

There are, believe it or not, year round Christmas stores.

There are, believe it or not, bookstores and craft stores that sell Hallmark Christmas items year round. They are collectible. All Consumerist has to do is peruse Ebay for five minutes to see that even ornaments sold last year are re-sold at higher prices by collectors. The year round availability of these items is crucial for collectors, even if that means they have to go to CVS to get it.

Consumerist would be better advised to stop crapping about Christmas creep and start informing consumers of market place realities that affect them. Christmas items on display in September doesn’t hurt a consumer. If they don’t want it, they don’t buy it. Natural market forces control these things and the truth about Christmas creep is that some years Christmas does well in the fall and others it does not.

Why Consumerist thinks this is a trend and why they might think it is bad is beyond an reasonable thinking.

They just hate Christmas.

Traditionalists Vow to Fight Charges of Racism in Netherlands

For nearly 200 years the Netherlands have carried on the St. Nicholas tradition of Zwarte Piet, a black elf-like character that only last year was condemned by critics as a racist caricature. Traditionalists tell Defend Christmas that they are organizing counter protests and the Winter Festival of 2014 will feature more Black Petes than ever, all but guaranteeing this issue will once again be at the forefront of media discussions of Christmas.

The complaints against Zwarte Piet, or Black Pete, began outside of the country, which does not have a long term history of racial issues, and it has exploded into an emotional debate as Christmas traditionalists inside the country cry foul.

While the character of St. Nicholas, both in a historic sense and in contemporary practice, has some similarities to Britain’s Father Christmas or America’s Santa Claus, the tradition of St. Nicholas is decidedly different in the Netherlands. Sinterklaas, as he is known, shows up in mid-November in many communities, usually riding a white horse and wearing the traditional Bishop’s robes of St. Nicholas.

Nicholas was, in fact, a Catholic bishop of world fame who lived in the 5th century. His tradition in the Netherlands is as much — still — a religious tradition as it is a seasonal celebration. He comes into town sometimes with dozens of assistants known as Black Petes. And together — Nicholas and Zwarte Piet — they determine which children are well behaved. They visit schools, hospitals, churches, stores and even private homes for weeks at a time leading up to St. Nicholas Day, traditionally observed on December 6th.

Children respond by singing Sinterklaas songs leaving out wish lists and water and hay for the horse. If St. Nicholas happens by while checking on their behavior, the next morning children may find chocolate coins or letter, candy treats, pepernoten, and little gifts in their shoes. Everyone hopes for sweets, not coal or a little bag of salt. In some families he may stop by every night, but usually just once or several times—and not if the children have been naughty that day or forgot to sing their songs. By tradition St. Nicholas hands out the goodies while Zwarte Piete doles out the bad stuff.

While there is some history of Zwarte Piet taking on darker and more sinister forms of punishment his character over time has become more one of whimsy and mischief. Ironically, it is the character of Sinterklaas that has remained more serious while Zwarte Piet has come to bring the more light-hearted element to the proceedings.

Last year the Jamaican chair of the UN Human Rights Commission condemned the practice of Black Pete. “The working group cannot understand that why it is that people in the Netherlands cannot see that this is a throwback to slavery and that in the 21st century this practice should stop. As a black person, I feel that if I was living in the Netherlands I would object to it,” she said.

Those comments cast an international media spotlight on the Christmas traditions in the Netherlands and led to hundreds of protesters marching on a park in The Hague in support of Dutch traditions.

This summer a court agreed that Black Pete is racist and encouraged organizers to change the tradition. In response the mayor of Amsterdam has vowed to gradually reduce the presence of Black Pete and to diminish his traditional characteristics.

While race hasn’t been at the forefront of issues in the Netherlands it has increased in focus. In fact, local media reports that complaints of race discrimination in the Netherlands have doubled in the past year, in part due to the controversy over Zwarte Piet.

Surveys also show an overwhelming sense that political correctness has taken root in the Netherlands, adversely affecting not only tradition but race relations overall.

Expect more strife this Christmas from the Netherlands.

San Diego Cities Pressured to Remove Christmas

San Diego — a city named after a Christian religious figure — is a hot bed of political correctness as cities in San Diego county debate the use of the word “Christmas” in traditional parades and holiday festivals. Recent discussions on the issue have brought forward threats if the word Christmas is not removed.

The topic of changing the parade name wasn’t even on the planning commission’s agenda during a recent meeting. They were there to discuss street closures.

But the issue has been around a long time. In 2005, several La Jollans wanted the Christmas Parade’s name changed to something without reference to a specific religion, but the La Jolla Town Council voted down the proposal 11-10 in a secret ballot. The issue arose again in 2009/2010 but went nowhere. The subject is sensitive in La Jolla, which once was notorious for its anti-Semitism.

The parade has set up its own 501(c)(3) organization, and is now completely separate from the town council. Ann Kerr Bache, who heads the parade, says informal polls have been taken regularly since 2005, and 89 percent to 92 percent of respondents say they do not want the name changed. Sponsors and donors do not want a name change.

Opponents of “Christmas” in the event have taken to new sinister tactics to facilitate change.

San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten urged LJCPA trustees to deny the street closures until a more inclusive name is determined. Marten noted that the names of most district-wide school performances have been changed from “Christmas” to “holiday”. Marten suggested that students in the district could help come up with an alternative name as part of the “critical discourse” encouraged by the Common Core State Standards initiative. Many schools have marching bands and color guards that participate in the parade.

Marten was blunt in making threats. “I will consider going to my board in the future and making recommendations for whether or not it’s appropriate for our schools to be participating in parades that have names that are not as inclusive as we might like.”

It is especially galling that an unelected official would make threats before a planning commission meeting discussing street closures. If Marten really wanted to pull the schools from the event she could do so but would face the wrath of public opinion against the idea and likely be forever blamed for the change. By threatening the commission she is subverting public input on the matter.

LJCPA trustee Fran Zimmerman, who pulled the item from the LJCPA’s August consent agenda, noted that The Washington Post — which is a newspaper and a private enterprise — will no longer use the term “Redskins” when referring to its local NFL team in editorials. “The United Nations has asked The Netherlands to please rethink its centuries-old Christmas tradition of Black Peter, Santa Claus’s right-hand man, in Holland,” she said, noting the feeling of many that the icon perpetuates racist stereotypes. “I’m not a big advocate of times changing, but I can tell you they have,” she said.

The parade is largely funded by private dollars, and does not receive any money from the city.

Trustee Rob Whittemore favored denying the street closures to send a message to event organizers. “We have a private organization using a public facility and about the only way we have any leverage to get the organization to sort of come (in line) with the modern times and become more politically correct … is by denying the street closures,” he said.

Lead name-change proponent Howard Singer, of the San Diego County Diversity and Inclusiveness Group, noted that the names of similar parades around the county have been changed to faith-neutral names.

Trustee Dan Courtney countered that the LJCPA should not be used as a “tool” for Singer and his group to “pursue their agenda.”

“I don’t think it’s appropriate, and personally, I think it’s really sad that it’s come to this,” Courtney said. “The Christmas Parade is a great thing. It makes everybody happy and it should not be attacked like this.”

In July, the La Jolla Village Merchants Association voted to ask that La Jolla Christmas Parade organizers change the name to one that does not reference a particular religion.

What makes this issue thornier is the fact the Christmas is recognized as a secular holiday by the Federal government. All sources tied to this discussion failed to explain what about the word Christmas in the context of the LaJolla event was in fact religious or offensive.

Never has there been a public protest of the event and last year several faith groups were recognized within the parade. Many fail to see what the problem is.

Christmas Creep Bleeds into Hate for Pumpkin Spice

The assault on the season isn’t all about the protest of Christmas in September. There’s real backlash out there against pumpkin, too.

Seriously.

Even FoxNews is in on it stating that “…like Christmas creep, American’s can’t wait for that flavor of pumpkin spice in their food and drink.”. Uh….really?

Just because manufacturers, restaurants, bars and stores are marketing pumpkin flavored products doesn’t mean that Americans want them and that, inexplicably, August and September are “too early” for them to be on the market.

Don’t tell that to Consumerist.com. They’ve been on an anti-pumpkin kick since July. They don’t like pumpkin toaster strudel, pumpkin spice Oreos, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin yogurt, and pumpkin gum.

And, yeah, Consumerist has long been a hater of Christmas.

(What’s with those guys anyway? They state, “Our mission is to help consumers understand, engage with, and discuss the systems and forces that influence the marketplace, so that we, as consumers, can all make better, more informed decisions.” Have you seen their website? They hate everything. They are critical of everything. It’s almost like being a consumer means being a bitter soul).

Back to pumpkins —

The anti-pumpkin media is all over the so-called craze for all things pumpkin. Starbucks famously launched their very popular Pumpkin Spice Latte in August. One problem (besides having the gall to come out in August): it contains no pumpkin. (Oh, the horror. Somebody call the Pumpkin Police).

Even People.com has jumped on the anti-pumpkin and anti-Christmas bandwagon.

But the kicker of all pumpkin-too-early has to be this: a pumpkin spice condom.

Turns out it is a hoax.

But, Consumerist be damned, this is America. It’ll come out next year. In May, likely. That ought to get everyone talking even earlier about “seasonal creep” next year.

Ultimate Christmas Creep is Digital Ugly Christmas Sweaters

The advent of ugly Christmas sweaters is most definitely a 21st century phenomenon. The point is this: who can show up to a Christmas event showing the most absurd sweater of a Christmas design. Businesses have been built on this premise and competitions have even been held. Last year a company called Digital Dudz took the ugly in Christmas sweaters to a whole new level of creepy. This just may catch on:

SavingChristmas.com Brought Down by Islamic Hackers

The Blaze.com is reporting that the website for Kirk Cameron’s new movie, SavingChristmas.com, has been hacked by Islamic hackers who have left dire warnings on the site in place of movie promotion.

We’re not sure if this is legitimate or merely a stunt to promote the movie.

If it is a stunt — and we doubt that it is — it is an ill-advised move that in the end will prove detrimental to the success of the production.

But if it is real the ramifications of this event are startling, regardless of how the movies does or if its message is accepted. Hackers of all varieties constantly hit most Christmas and Christian related websites. These events go largely undetected because in the background webmasters actively work to constantly thwart them.

But SavingChristmas.com is a fairly new site. And it has a clearly stated purpose aimed at a large general audience. For hackers to bring it down so quickly while spreading a message of “Whoever has bad ideas about our religion and our country including internet websites we will fight with them…” could be an ominous warning for any site with a pro-Christian or pro-Christmas agenda.

It should be noted that hackers and spammers over the course of the past six months especially have been targeting Christmas and Christian themed websites at an unprecedented rate. Most attacks appear to be coming from Russia, China and the Middle East. This is the first successful hack that we’ve heard about that has included any kind of messaging.

Media Stirs Pot Against Kmart and Gets No Response

Time.com has the headline this morning about Kmart: Ho-Ho-What the hell? Chalk up another media outlet that doesn’t get it.

What Time.com seems to want is backlash from Kmart customers and the buying public. Breathlessly they quote a comment on Kmart’s Facebook page allegedly from a consumer that commented — almost as if by magic — about a half hour before Time’s hit piece was published this morning. Hmmmmm.

Scrolling through Kmart’s public comments one can see lots of complaints…but not really about a Christmas commercial.

Where’s the backlash? Where is the rage of a year ago? Why aren’t people responding?

Because it’s not an issue. Kmart’s ad is clever and it reaches just who it intends.

Time sums up their piece by saying “Oh yeah, forgot: It’s not Christmas season yet!”

News flash to Time.com and the media: yes it is the Christmas season. Kmart is right on time.