The Thanksgiving turkey hasn’t been carved yet and the holiday season is already off to a controversial start.
Across the country ‘ugly’ Christmas sweaters, neighborhood lighting displays, department store advertisements – even Santa’s workshop – are ticking off people.
That new red Starbucks cup? It was just the tip of the iceberg.
Holiday sweaters, of all things, landed both Nordstrom and Target in hot water.
Nordstrom angered some of its customers with a Hanukkah-themed “ugly” sweater bearing the phrase “Chai Maintenance,” using the Hebrew word for “life” that rhymes with “high.”
People slammed the sweater on the store’s Facebook page, where some called the garment anti-Semitic. “I’m very disturbed by this sweater and the negative stereotype of Jewish women,” wrote one person.
Offensive, however, is in the eye of the beholder. Other people kind of liked it.
The sweater didn’t last long. Nordstrom pulled it last week and apologized on Facebook, saying the sweater “wasn’t something we should have offered and are no longer offering it.”
Target, on the other hand, is still selling the sweater that lit up Twitter like Whoville on Christmas eve.
Folks who slammed Target’s “OCD — Obsessive Christmas Disorder” Christmas sweater charged that it trivialized mental health issues. Angry shoppers began taking pictures of the sweater in stores and posting them to Twitter before Halloween.
Other shoppers just shrugged.
Target issued a mea culpa, but is still selling the sweater.
“We never want to disappoint our guests and we apologize for any discomfort,” the company said in a statement last week.
Bloomingdale’s has had some explaining to do, too.
An ad from the high-end retailer’s holiday catalog went viral for its perceived encouragement of date rape.
The ad features an attractive man and woman with the caption: “Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.”
The backlash came quickly.
Bloomingdale’s issued an apology.
Consumers have blown the whistle on holiday crimes of omission, too.
The SouthPark Mall in Charlotte, N.C. caught fast and furious flak when it announced it was replacing the Christmas tree in its annual holiday display with a giant, white, fake glacier.
The new Santa experience, billed as a “modern interactive experience for the family,” had a light and sound show, too.
But customers revolted. Give us back our tree!
People called the faux glacier “horrible,” “hideous” and “sad.” Thousands signed a Change.org to bring back the Christmas tree.
So the mall put it back.
“We made a mistake. We'll fix it,” David Contis, the president of the Simon Property Group, told a Charlotte business journal.
“We wanted to upgrade the experience for the kids. Glacier was intended to be a whimsical way for the children to wait for Santa. They were going to the North Pole.”
He said the mall could have explained its plans better or even kept some of the more traditional Christmas decorations. The company ran into the same objections when it installed the same type of glacier display at its Roosevelt Field Mall in Long Island.
Swapping Santa’s sleigh for what people mockingly called “George Jetson’s pad,” bombed there, too.
“Santa comes along with a decorated tree; he doesn’t come with a spaceship,” one angry shopper told The New York Post.
“I won’t be shopping there this year,” said another longtime customer.
The mall ditched the new display and brought back the poinsettias and snow-covered trees.
While those mall shoppers wanted full-throttle holiday decor, residents in one Indianapolis neighborhood want the Christmas lights dimmed.
Elaborate, private, outdoor light displays are an annual source of controversy, as some have been in Kansas City in recent years.
A light show synchronized to music in Hamilton County, Indiana, had become such a popular tradition that families traveled from all around the state to see it.
This season, the homeowners association pulled the plug, deeming the display a nuisance. Neighbors complained that the display turned the 90-home subdivision into a virtual parking lot full of cars and that lookie loos trashed the neighborhood.
One neighbor cannot, will not, destroy Christmas for everyone, the association decreed.
So this year’s display will be small, with no music.
The mayor of Natchitoches, La. has no problem with lights and music in his town. But this season he put his foot down on having the Confederate flag in the town’s annual Christmas Festival of Lights parade.
After hearing from concerned citizens Mayor Lee Posey asked the parade committee to not allow the flag in the parade.
“It's a sore spot, a very open sore spot for the African-American community for quite a long time who frequent the parade,” John Winston, the President of the Natchitoches Parish Voters and Civic League, told local TV station KSLA.
Posey clarified his stance at a press conference earlier this week.
“To be clear, the city of Natchitoches has not banned the Confederate flag from public display,” he said. “The only thing we have banned is the flag being marched in the Christmas Festival parade.”
The parade “should be a symbol of the Christmas season and should be associated with peace, love and unity,” Posey said. “I truly believe that our Christmas festival should seek to bind us, not divide us.”
His decision has not gone over well, with people accusing him of being too politically correct.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans has had a float in the parade for more than 20 years but are boycotting this year because of the flag ban.
One business owner designed a Confederate rebel flag shirt and is encouraging people to wear it to the Dec. 5 parade.
The volunteer festival organizers are trying to stay festive and above the fray.
Said parade director, Lee Waskom: “This parade is about Christmas, and the birth of Jesus, and children.”