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October 29th

Bob Cratchit sat at his small desk, eagerly waiting for the hands on the clock to reach five so that he could leave the depressing office of his employer, Ebenezer Scrooge, the tightest, greediest, man in the land. Once the clock struck five, Bob grabbed his coat and headed for the door. He was almost out when Scrooge's voice roared from the office rear.

"Where are you off to so early in the eve?" Scrooge asked.
"I'm off to the Spirit Halloween store Mr. Scrooge. It is almost Halloween, and we've a lot of decorating and preparation to do before the kiddies arrive. We mustn't disappoint them" Cratchit replied.
"Halloween? Humbug to Halloween Cratchit! Why you fools bother to buy anything for Halloween before November 1st confounds me. Don't you realize you can get everything they sell now for half off the day after?"
"But Mr. Scrooge, we need to make this Halloween as nice as we can," Cratchit muttered while holding his hat in trembling hands. "Yes, we can get items at a discount on November 1st, but then we run the risk of telling retailers it's not worth their time and money to invest in proper props and we'll end up with more Chinese junk next year."
"Nonsense Cratchit," Scrooge thundered. "Price, price is what drives sales, not quality! Don't you think the retailers know that? They know they'll make all their money off costumes and candy, the things people need before the holiday. The props and decor are just trivles to get customers in the door to buy their consumables. Then they sell off their cheap props to the cheapskates who won't part with a nickle unless it's to buy something 50% off because they know there aren't enough people who'll pay enough for the good stuff."
"But don't you see Mr. Scrooge, that's why I want to go and make my purchases before the holiday. Maybe if more people would buy items before Halloween, and enable the retailers to make more money, they would invest in props and decor items that aren't a lot of cheap Chinese crap that falls apart before the year is out."
"No, I don't see it Cratchit. I'm telling you you're a fool to pay full price, or even 30-40% off with those coupons they're always sending you this time of year. The smart man waits for the November 1st sale, when they can stand in line with the rest of the bargain shoppers and fight over stuff that's been picked over and damaged for the past month so they can save that extra 10%, and I shall save you, my fool, from being soon parted from his money, by making you work tonight until the retailers close!"

That night, Scrooge returned to his home when he encountered the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley, who told him how he had died before he could truly understand the difference between Christmas decor and Halloween decor shopping. He told of how there's so much great stuff for Christmas because people buy it before Christmas. They want their homes to be festive for their guests as the holiday approaches, and not spend their good money on cheap crap that'll sit in boxes for a year because they bought it the day after. He also told Scrooge he would be visited by three ghosts: the ghosts of Halloween past, present, and future.

Not long after Scrooge retired for the night, and true to Marley's word, the ghost of Halloween past did appear. The ghost reminded Scrooge of what shopping for Halloween decor had been like when Scrooge was a child... 5ft paper skeletons... foot-tall paper skulls, black cats, and witch heads... and blowmolds - lots and lots of blowmolds. Like, a crap load of blow molds. No animated figures, no lifesized creatures, nothing that even had a third dimension that wasn't made from orange plastic and with a light bulb in its butt. These decorations brought back lots of warm childhood memories, but Scrooge had to admit they were a bit lame for today's haunts.

Once the first ghost left, the ghost of Christmas present appeared, and Scrooge told the spirit he had the wrong house. He wanted the Hamptons house, two roads over and down one... the house where the Christmas tree light strings from last year were still up. Not long after that, the ghost of Halloween present appeared, and he showed Scrooge all the latest offerings from Spirit, Grandin Road, Michaels, even Walmart, and he pointed out that even though these modern items weren't perfect, they were a huge improvement over the decor of the past, and these only existed because retailers had a now growing faith that Halloween decorators would buy their products at a price point where they could make a decent profit, and if they couldn't do that there was no point in continuing to improve the quality of their goods.

It was almost midnight when the ghost of Halloween future showed up. Based on the visual telling of similar stories, Scrooge was expecting to see the ghastly visage of a grim reaper-like nightmare creature with skeletal hands and the pained and screaming faces of tortured souls bursting from it's horrid chest. Instead he saw this...

The ghost took Scrooge from his home and showed him the future of Halloween. There was no more Spirit stores, Grandin Road had gone from selling tacky Fall floral displays directly into selling tacky Christmas floral displays. The section of Michaels that had always been used for Halloween goods had been overrun by the ever-expanding scrapbook supply and custom framing departments, and Walmart had replaced their Halloween isles with rows of Power Ranger and Sponge Bob costumes that had been found languishing in a warehouse since the mid 1990s. There were no poseable skeletons, no animated ghosts, no almost lifesize animated slasher killers, no inflatable cats, no foam pumpkins, no jumping insects, no body parts in meat packages... not even a lone zombie baby. There was nothing but a vast, grey, landscape of nothingness. The ghost then took Scrooge to the only store that still bothered to carry Halloween decor items... Hallmark. And there Scrooge looked upon the rows of Mickey Mouse vampires, cute black cats sitting atop even cuter pumpkins, bland witches holding tacky signs that read "Witch Way To The Candy?" Yes, the ghost showed him that Halloween decor had been reduced to a non-scary, non-threatening, who-the-Hell-would-ever-put-a-heart-on-a-ghost nightmare from which he would never recover!!! He begged and pleaded with the ghost to tell him this could all change, that this wasn't what Halloween was supposed to be, but the ridiculous looking ghost with a heart just gave him an evil laugh and left him alone in this Hallmark Hell until he passed out.

Scrooge awoke early the next morning, sure that it must be too late to change what the ghosts had shown him. Too late to change his ways of waiting until the 50% off sales to buy anything. He opened his bedroom window and spied a young lad walking to school, and he asked the boy what the date was. "Why it's October 30th, the day before Halloween" came the reply.

"It's not too late!" Scrooge screamed as he realized he did still have time to prevent the bland Hallmark Halloween future he so deathly feared. He rushed to his office, grabbed up Cratchit, and headed for all his favorite retailers, happy to know that every dollar he and Bob spent was another reason for the retailers to want to invest in even bigger and better items next year.

The End
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