In music, mashups are when a performer or group combines the instrumentals of one song with the vocals of another song and then the mashup, or blending if you will, is played as a new song. Sometimes it works and sometimes it flops.
In retail, this is the time of year for practicing what I think of as a huge marketing mash-up. Stores no longer wait for one holiday to almost happen and then stock the shelves with the decorations or products for the next holiday. There is no longer any retail restraint with regard to holidays; it’s just throw it all out there at any time and let the calendar be damned.
I guess if I made a living in retail I would understand this “go for broke” philosophy. Most stores are counting on shoppers during the holiday season to help them rack up profits for the year but the holiday marketing mashup makes it awfully hard for those who have lost a loved one and are using all their strength to emotionally keep it together.
Christmas decorations are on the shelves in October, Thanksgiving table decorations are on sale in September and Halloween candy can be found next to August’s displays for school supplies. It’s confusing to know what time of the year it is if I’m using stores as a seasonal guide.
Since most of the retail rules got kicked to the curb, I’m suggesting a few things for those who are particularly emotionally vulnerable the holiday season. If you are able to embrace the holidays in all their magic and wonder then good for you!! I congratulate you on your good luck and I hope that no matter what holidays you celebrate that you have the best holidays ever!!
But for people who are newly widowed or have lost a child, a relative or a friend, the holidays are filled with memories and expectations. And this is where the marketing mashup causes problems.
Memories, yes, are wonderful, and I feel blessed to have some great memories of my late husband but I know from personal experience and also from conversations with those who have experienced a loss that as much as you steel yourself for the celebration of religious and traditional holidays, you only have enough emotional energy to deal with them one at a time. Holiday reminders thrown at you all at the same time can put you into emotional overload which is not what you want at all.
Your life has changed and it’s important to take care of you. There is no requirement that you celebrate your holidays the way that you always did when your loved one was alive. If you haven’t already, talk to your family and friends about what you want to do over the holidays. If traditions and time honored routines give you comfort, then please continue with the ones you feel you need and want to keep. If you want to create new traditions, then you should feel free to celebrate in a new way.
Holidays are a highly charged time of year and you deserve to find a healing zone within these months of eating, drinking and making merry.Trust your instincts. It’s best for your mental and physical well being to take the holidays at your own pace and celebrate in your own way, not a mashed up, commercial version of what Madison Avenue thinks you should do.