Let’s be clear right from the start. I’m not cheap.
I don’t care what people say about my lugubrious slow-draw wallet work at the coffee shop. I’m really not.
Rather, I would describe myself as perhaps at worst … overly suggestible.
But yeah, I admit it. Whatever the cause, it’s a problem.
I would liken my situation to that of Pavlov’s other dog — the one you never hear about — the mutt that not only learned to drool at the sound of his master ringing a bell, but quickly got to the point where it couldn’t drool at all — not a drop —unless the bell was actually being rung.
That’s me with Christmas music.
There. I’ve said it. My dirty laundry is out, flapping in the wind for all the world to see.
Since I was a toddler, year after year after year, the advent of the Christmas music season has meant it’s time to punch out the piggy bank and shop, shop, shop.
Unfortunately, just like Pavlov’s other dog, I proved to be far too willing to live up to the societal expectations of me. As it turned out, I was too eager, too suggestible.
Now, just like Pavlov’s famous bell, whenever I hear The Little Drummer Boy or White Christmas, I just can’t help myself and I whip out my wallet faster than you can say pa-rum-pa-pum-pum.
I’m like Santa himself, dripping golden gewgaws, gadgets and gizmos to all and sundry — budget be damned, full speed ahead!
Spending for people like me is easy at this time of year. On a good day, you can walk down a busy street at this holly jolly season and hear Christmas music the whole way, if the stores have their doors open. Yeah, I know. Awesome!
But then there’s New Year’s and all of a sudden the Christmas music dries right up.
And then, well, the magic is gone. If the Christmas bells ain’t ringin’ my bank account ain’t droolin’. I just can’t get into it.
There’s something hollowed out from the shopping experience that no quiet humming of Frosty the Snowman can dispel.
And the months drag on … January, February, March, barely able to buy more than a jug of milk and a loaf of bread. August, September — wallet hand flacid, virtually paralysed. It just doesn’t work any more.
It’s not until mid-October and the mandatory gorge on candy and fireworks that my inner Cratchet can start to peep out of its shell.
If I’m really lucky I’ll start to hear the first whisps of Christmas music by early November.
And that’s when the real me — the hyper-generous anti-Grinch — is back.
For this reason I was pretty put out recently when a major national retailer bowed to an avalanche of public pressure and paused its Christmas music for a couple of weeks.
For some reason, people were upset at the store piping in its seasonal songs on Nov. 1. As if anyone could ever get heartily sick of Christmas music!
I don’t know about you, but those were a couple of very precious weeks wasted.
Just think, Mr. Tightwad me could have walked into that store, pinching my pennies to hear them squeak and then had my heart-swelling Grinch moment, my Ebenezer Scrooge conversion right there in the store, two whole weeks ago.
But no, now I have to wait until this weekend and the kickoff to the innumerable craft fairs in the area to get the fix I need.
In a perfect world, retailers would pipe in Christmas music 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 12 months of the year.
And then, all of Oceanside or District 69 or Parksville-Qualicum Beach or whatever the heck it is we call ourselves these days would get the opportunity to see the real me — and oh my, how the bounty would flow!
Because I don’t want you to think I’m cheap — and really, isn’t that what’s important?
Neil Horner is the assistant editor of the Parksville Qualicum Beach News and a regular columnist.