Christmas shopping in July? Or battling the crowds after Thanksgiving?
Are you saying Bah Hum Bug before Thanksgiving, or are you decking the halls after Halloween?
Staten Island parents are divided in the unofficial debate over the appropriate timing of the holiday shopping season. Some, like Priscilla Carles-Glantz of Port Richmond, welcome early holiday shopping because it avoids last-minute pressure and offers convenience, availability and selection, and promotes an overall positive atmosphere.
“Why shouldn’t we have more of a season with so much positivity around,” she said as she shopped at the Staten Island Mall on Labor Day with her 19-year-old daughter Katie.
She said retail therapy spreads holiday cheer.
“You can say it’s commercialized, but we are in a society right now where there is so much stress in our world that to have a little merriment – to have Santa here and to have a Menorah there – I think it’s wonderful,” Mrs. Carles-Glantz, who is from an interfaith family, explained.
As a busy mom of three, Mitzi Rivera of South Beach prefers to start shopping in October when her kids are back to school.
“When the holidays come, you don’t have time,” she said as she pushed her seven-month-old daughter through the mall recently while her 13-year-old and 11-year-old were at home.
Meanwhile, other parents feel rushed and overwhelmed by the thought of Christmas shopping before the arrival of the two other major holidays, they said.
Fran Molinari of New Dorp feels the commercialism of the holiday season bombards parents too early – she prefers to shop closer to the start of each holiday season.
“I only have one child, but I think for people with more than one it’s got to be hard,” she said as she shopped with her five-year-old daughter.
She is among the more traditional parents who like to celebrate each holiday as it arrives.
Yolaina Condreras of Dongan Hills refuses to shop for Christmas right after Labor Day while the weather is still warm. Shopping after Thanksgiving suits her needs. “I think everything starts to early,” she said with her tween daughter in tow.
The Staten Island Mall officially transitions into holiday mode on November 1, according to general manager Jim Easley.
“We like to get out ahead of the curve,” he told Staten Island Parent.
Even though customers snarl about it starting too early year after year, he said Chicago-based mall owner, General Growth Properties, wants to accommodate early bird shoppers or those planning to be out of town for the holidays.
“Christmas is a fun time of the year,” Easley said. “We are hoping for a great holiday season and we hope to get people [to shop] as early as possible.”
The Dasaros of Great Kills are among those who snub the idea of Christmas shopping months in advance – they start December 1 and do some Internet shopping to avoid feeling too frazzled by the advanced retail frenzy.
“You get some people who go Christmas shopping in July and they are done in October,” Stefanie Dasaro said, with her five-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter by her side at the mall.
“You start panicking earlier than you have to because you start seeing everything out, meanwhile, you have four months to do it,” she added.
Her husband, Mike, agrees retailers push the holiday season way too early. “With kids it’s the worst because you don’t know their sizes,” especially with unexpected growth spurts, he explained.
He says the couple considers shopping on Black Friday, but reconsiders that morning due to the excessive crowds.
Whether they shop early or later in the season, the parents we spoke with said they generally let Grandma and Grandpa purchase the gifts of their choice.
Ms. Rivera maintains a general rule – she buys the toys, while her family buys clothes. Ms. Condreras said her family typically forgoes her suggestions and buys her daughter what they want and can afford.
Mrs. Molinari recommends some gift items now that her daughter is a little older, but mostly lets her family play Santa. “I like people to have fun with it, so I don’t push too much,” she said.
Meanwhile, other families have the best of both worlds – families who are more practical and over the top.
Mrs. Dasaro’s parents make monetary deposits in her kids’ bank accounts, while her husband’s parents are more extravagant.
“Literally, you go there and you’re buried,” she said.
“His family is all about the excitement,” which includes giant piles of gifts, Mrs. Dasaro said.
But, she won’t limit her in-laws because she wants to preserve the joy of Christmas – even if that means Grandma and Grandpa started shopping in July to do so.
“It’s got to be all about ‘Santa Claus’ … they tell us to bring both cars,” Dasaro noted.
While it may be too rushed for some, Mrs. Carles-Glantz said the early holiday season contributes to the nation’s economic health and promotes family bonding.
“We are kind of in a recession right now, so it helps out the stores as well,” she said. “The longer it goes on the better.”
“I think it’s a positive thing for the economy, socially, and family-wise,” Mrs. Carles-Glantz added.
By Christine Albano, a Staten Island-based freelance writer and mother of three who can frequently be found at the mall on Christmas Eve scrambling for last-minute gifts.
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