It seems almost anti-American to dread the holidays, what with all the decorations, social gatherings and general good cheer. But the sight of mall decorations and twinkling Christmas lights in the trees has made me feel more like Scrooge than jolly old Saint Nick. Maybe one of the reasons for my lack of holiday spirit is the fact that retailers and consumers alike are busting out the eggnog and tinsel before the neighborhood kids are even ringing my doorbell demanding candy. Christmas is still a good 70 days away but I’m already being thrust into the land of fa la la.
Once I start thinking about Christmas I start to worry. Will I have enough time to shop for everyone? Will I have enough money to shop for everyone? Will I have enough time to meet all my obligations? Will I have enough strength to keep my mouth shut while I sit next to Aunt Edna at dinner? The holiday season, despite its beauty, can be a very nerve racking experience.
And I’m not the only one that thinks so. After the 1999 holiday season, Dateline NBC and Prevention Magazine conducted a poll to find out just how stressed people get this time of year. Some results: 41 percent of those polled owned up to finding Christmas and Hanukkah stressful, rating it right up there with asking the boss for a raise. Thirty nine percent of people over commit or take on too many responsibilities at holiday time, while 43 percent reported that they feel a lot of pressure to do things they really don’t want to do. Some of the major stressors reported: money issues, family conflicts, too many social obligations and unreachable holiday expectations.
And these are average respondents, with normal schedules and jobs. How stressed are those whose businesses revolve around the holidays? What about growers? Just imagine the same list of stress inducing holiday blues for growers and grower/retailers. It would look a bit like this: the compressed selling season, price squeezing from mass merchandisers and leftover inventory. And don’t forget: bracts that aren’t expanded enough, whiteflies, Pythium, powdery mildew and late stretch.
Growers face an enormous amount of pressure just before and during the holiday season. Between trying to produce the perfect poinsettia and selling out your inventory without suffering the "price gouge" from big box stores, it’s enough to make any grower dread the impending festivities.
A Little Holiday Help
Two of this month’s contributors feel your pain. In his article "Selling Out the Holidays" on pg. 44, Stan Pohmer tries to help you make all that you can out of the holiday selling season. Although holiday crops require more up-front planning than outdoor crops, the holidays can still be a lucrative learning experience for you and your staff. Stan suggests keeping a log of your season, recording customer traffic, your price points as well as those of your competitors, daily units sold and other information that will come in handy when planning next year’s holiday sales.
Roger Styer speaks to poinsettia growers anxious to get their crop out the door – hassle-free. In his piece, "Heading Down the Poinsettia Home Stretch" on pg. 38, Roger offers a bit of advice to help poinsettia producers ship quality plants despite the very real potential of pest infestation, disease and bract damage at this late stage.
The holidays can be a real pain. They’re expensive and time-consuming and most of all stressful. But they can also be exciting. Sharing good food and good company should come around more than once a year.
So whether you’re a grower worried about sleeving your last batch of poinsettias or a party host who can’t cook a lick, just relax. Take a few moments for yourself over the next few weeks. Stop the worry and the running around. Look forward to the holidays, celebrate those around you, eat, drink and be merry!