Ladies and gentlemen, when I was at a local grocery the other day, I couldn’t help but hear the Christmas music that emanated through the air as townsfolk shopped for edibles and other sundries.

“Good gravy,” I thought to myself, “it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet.”

True, it has been beginning to look at lot like Christmas at some places of commerce since back in September – if not earlier. But over the past few years, it seems like once Halloween has come and gone, the stores sell off the spooky merchandise for 50- to 75-percent off to quickly make room for Christmas commodities.

It’s understood that Thanksgiving is basically a holiday of food, family and fellowship, so it makes sense that some stores aren’t going all out to deck the halls to advertise the occasion. After all, if you’re going to cook a big Thanksgiving repast, you’re going to need the victuals to fix the annual repast.

Unlike the olden golden days, I don’t know many, if any, folks who go outside when the frost is on the pumpkin and the fodder’s in the shock and pick out the fattest turkey on the farm.

However, it seems we’ve been jumping the gun, so to speak, when it comes to going straight from tricks or treats to Christmastime.

After Thanksgiving, of course, we’ve got Black Friday, which I’ve written aspersions about in the past, where stores offer deals to kick-start the shopping season, followed by Cyber Monday. But if you’re like me, you’ve never heard of Singles’ Day, which was held this past Saturday, Nov. 11.

According to Forbes, next to Singles’ Day, Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day look like pathetic shadows of shopping days. In 2016, retailers took in $17.8 billion in gross sales on Singles’ Day, compared with the $3.34 billion that consumers spent online during Black Friday that same month.

OK, so what the Charles Dickens is Singles’ Day?

Wikipedia to the rescue: Chinese Singles’ Day or Guanggun Jie is an entertaining festival widespread among young Mainland Chinese people to celebrate the fact that they are proud of being single.

The date, Nov. 11 (11/11), is chosen because the number “1” resembles an individual that is alone. This festival has become the largest offline and online shopping day
in the world, with sales at $5.8 billion in 2013, $9.3 billion in 2014, $14.3 billion in 2015, $17.8 billion in 2016 and over $25.4 billion in 2017.

Wow, even though I am no math major, this year’s Singles’ Day sales are more than 40-percent higher than a year ago. So this means more and more people are single, right?

Not so fast, my friend. More research turns up that a celebration that began as a protest of sorts against Valentine’s Day has become a “frenzied annual celebration of consumption and commerce that it has become China’s much larger version of Black Friday” and has “evolved into a cultural phenomenon.” The day is “all about everyone – not just singles – treating themselves.”

This makes sense. For some reason, it makes me remember a time when my lovely wife, Helen, and I lived in Georgia and were attending an Atlanta Braves playoff game against the San Francisco Giants. There was a scalper at Turner Field hawking tickets, and when I asked his price, he told us, “Treat yourself, don’t cheat yourself.” On that day many years ago, we treated ourselves.

If Singles’ Day was a stock, I’d buy it because it’s trending upward and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it becoming more and more international.

Unfortunately, there are lesser known national days that don’t get that type of love.

For instance, I bet you missed celebrating National Nachos Day and Saxophone Day on Nov. 6. As I type this (Nov. 14), it’s National Pickle Day, followed by National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day, followed by National Fast Food Day, followed by National Take A Hike Day. I’ll attempt to celebrate accordingly.

Apparently, there are multiple “Days” every day of every year, but in the interest of time and space, here are a few upcoming days of interest that may or may not be of interest: National Play Monopoly Day (Nov. 19); National Absurdity Day (Nov. 20); Tie One On Day (Nov. 22); National Cookie (or Cake, if you prefer) Day (Nov. 26); National French Toast Day (Nov. 28); Stay Home Because You’re Well Day (Nov. 30); and National Mutt Day (Dec. 2).

But before this week’s award-winning offering comes to its ineluctable conclusion, we’d be remiss not to mention a “World Day” where we’re encouraged to “think and take action” – World Toilet Day.

World Toilet Day is celebrated each Nov. 19, and one of its recent slogans, according to The Economist, was, well, you can look that one up for yourself.

While some of this may seem funny, The World Toilet Organization, which aims to make the world aware of sanitation issues, says it’s no laughing matter. Numerous plumbing websites report that the average person spends three whole years of their life sitting on the commode, though I wonder how they gathered that data.

According to a Nov. 14 press release, even actor Matt Damon wants us to “sit and give,” pointing out that more people in the world have a mobile phone than a toilet and that those of us who have both often use them at the same time.

Kimberly-Clark is conducting a similar effort with a Toilets Change Lives program, encouraging people to “pause while they flush and consider how the lack of basic sanitation facilities profoundly affects peoples’ lives.”

Honestly, it’s a worthy cause for people and companies to get behind, so to speak, but I wonder if the cash spent on just one Singles’ Day and Black Friday would solve this world problem (and others, for that matter) right now.

Steve Roush is a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at