Are You Pre-Excited for the Holidays?

I have pre-purchased my cans of pumpkin to make yummy pumpkin pies.

Miles run today: 4.5

Pounds of cranberries pre-purchased: 3

Deadlines left to meet for work before the holidays: 0

Setting: Our house in front of the TV as my brain is shutting down for the night.

“What’s this pre-ordering stuff?” my husband asked.


“The pre-order. Pre-ordering isn’t a thing.” He points to the TV, where people are busily pre-ordering laptops, vacuum cleaners and cell phones.

“I guess it’s a thing.”

“It’s Not. A. Thing. You either order, or you back-order if they don’t have it in stock. Now people are pre-ordering. And it’s not a thing.”

I was listening with half an ear. I have requested that my husband never employ the word “utilize” (a jargon-y word that simply means “use”), andΒ I have had to stop saying things like, “I’m going to walk a ways down the road” for my husband and “neat” for my dad. (“Neat! Neat! ‘Neat’ means nothing; try ‘illuminating.’ or ‘mind-boggling,’ or even ‘grand.’ Never neat. Oh, please.”)

So I was afraid pre-order was going to go down as another forbidden word.

But then a funny thing happened: I realized my husband was right.

Not only on TV, but all over real-life, too: people were pre-planning and pre-pre-Black Friday sales-attending.

On another recent TV night, we looked at each other as a newscaster talked about stores pre-preparing.

My husband sat up straight on the couch. “Seriously? Pre-preparing? Where does it end?”

In all the hustle and bustle of life, when people run out first thing the day after Thanksgiving and throw their lights up on the house and rush to tear them down at 7 a.m. the day after Christmas; when stores must stay open on Thanksgiving night so that early-early birds get their goodies a few hours before everyone else; when we are pre-printing our holiday cards this November for next November (“Hurry, Timmy, please grow a little taller so this photo still looks good next year!”)… it makes me wonder what we are trying to get a jump on…

Maybe death?

Does pre-ordering make stores feel better, or is it simply to make consumers feel better that they are one step ahead?

My husband and I have ordered and received some of the kids’ Christmas presents. We didn’t pre-order them; we merely ordered them early so that we’d have them before the massive onslaught of holiday consumerism.

We were lying in bed reading the other night.

“Ha! I found another one!” he says, pointing to his e-reader.


“Oh. I guess that’s not one.”

“One what?”

“Another pre-thing. But it’s… er…Β pretend.”Β 

Maybe I should start using that one. I’m going to go tend to my roses before they actually need me to prune them, just to get a jump on things for next spring. Because I’m just that organized.

What about you? Have you pre-ordered anything this year? Or pre-prepared?

38 thoughts on “Are You Pre-Excited for the Holidays?

  1. Daryl says:

    What about pre-delivery of said Christmas gifts? Does FedEx have a stake in the space-time continuum, or maybe a Delorean delivery vehicle? I’m sure Stephen Hawkin(g) (not Southern yet) would have something to say about this. And what about my credit card, I hope they don’t start pre-billing me!

  2. Mike Owen says:

    Such a neat blog post today, Anne! Actually, as the doggies and I were walking a ways down the road this afternoon on their pre-evening meal walk, I did recall that I pre-ordered some books on Amazon for Christmas – selected them and then simply left them in my online shopping basket – so that I could return later to the pre-ordering limbo and then actually place the order! Maybe, just maybe, it. Is. A. Thing.

  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    The only things I pre-order are DVDs, for example the next season of “Dexter.” I save good money by doing this, which is always a treat. Plus, by having it pre-ordered, I won’t forget about it once it comes out. Amazon sends me a nice email that it will soon be shipped. πŸ™‚

  4. Bernie Brown says:

    Good one, Anne. You are so right, and that kind of advertising is even more annoying than advertising usually is.

  5. jmmcdowell says:

    Couldn’t we just call it “early ordering?” That has the “same” meaning without butchering the literal meaning of ordering! And I remember ads that said “Order early to guarantee delivery by Christmas.” Somewhere in the techno-computer age, “Pre” became de rigeur.

    Pre-preparing is just so wrong, on so many levels. πŸ˜‰

    And, no, I have not yet started my holiday shopping in any way, shape, or form!

  6. Amy Mak says:

    Reading the comments after the post is so entertaining. I had never considered the “pre” but now that you point it out, I shall be irritated whenever I hear it. However, I’ll always love the runner “Pre.” Ever see that movie? It was super neat.

  7. desertrose7 says:

    I think we should all pre meditate, so we relax a bit, you know?

  8. I think I am rather pretentiously keeping my head buried in the sand in an overly dramatic response to the commercialism of the festive season.
    That whole pretend conversation made me giggle – so cute.

  9. Ha! Adding pre to things is in line with a general trend towards redundant words that can be seen all over the media. People talk about things like ‘advance planning’ (what other type of planning is there?), or a ‘brief summary’, or a ‘final conclusion’. There are hundreds of examples of things being added to words for no reason!

    • annewoodman says:

      Excellent examples, Vanessa! I love “final conclusion.” Awesome! I have to wonder if the trend is because people in the media are speaking off the cuff, and perhaps pre-prepared slips out?? I really hope that’s the case.

      We were watching HGTV last night, and an architect/builder-type was talking about “pre-rusting” some metal. We both sighed.

    • Daryl says:

      I love brief summary and final conclusion. As a scientist, these are things that I encounter a lot. Good catch.

  10. Pre-tending the garden. I love it. Can’t wait to tell the Master Gardeners that one.

    This year I saw a Christmas display in a store the weekend before Labor Day. REALLY? That would be Pre-pre-pre-pre-decorating for the Holidays. I’m sorry but tradition says Santa arrives at Macy’s on Thanksgiving morning. Period! πŸ™‚

    I admit that there has been several years when we were done shopping, gifts wrapped, and packages shipped prior to Thanksgiving. However, that’s when we lived 1,000 miles away from family.

    • annewoodman says:

      Wow. Before Labor Day? I can’t imagine. It’s still 100+ degrees here at that time of year. ; )

      Dennis, you sound very organized. I bet you have been pre-tending your garden for years without even knowing it. ; )

      • Oh how I wish. The poor gardens took a hit this year with virtually no maintenance. The one saving grace was we put in a new irrigation system in April so at least the plants got some water.

  11. kabe1 says:

    I am all over my Christmas shopping this year – very very unlike me – buying all sorts of Pre-sents earlier than normal. In fact it has become something of a Pre-occupation for me to complete my xmas shopping before December starts. On the subject of irritating pleonasms, my personal pet hates are “past experience’, “end result” and “completely unique”. I think maybe I shall need to write a blog piece on these totally redundant expressions! Perhaps we could get a list together.

    • annewoodman says:

      Ha! “End result”! I love it!

      Congrats on your early bird shopping. I have not been so perfect… We have a few things, but there are plenty of things left to purchase.

      Yes, you and l will have to focus pre-dominantly on expressions that rub us the wrong way. Starting with: “At the end of the day…” ; )

  12. thepoelog says:

    I’m ashamed to admit: We did pre-Black Friday shop. We called Brooks Brothers (work suits for him and wrinkle free shirts for me) to see when their Black Friday discounts would start and they informed us they already had. And so, we made the long drive after work on Tuesday, fighting against the traffic of the evacuating Thanksgiving Day travelers. And then we had Hooters at 9 pm on a Tuesday. We really know how to party around here.

  13. Ravena Guron says:

    Erm… I’m not sure about pre-ordering, but my mum always buys Christmas presents for next year as soon as Christmas is over because she likes to buy things in the sales.. she can buy more stuff. So that’s like pre-ing to the extreme, or… I think we should invent a new word for it πŸ˜€

  14. Your husband might be right about “pre-order,” but he is definitely NOT right about “a-ways.” It is a uniquely American expression meaning “a short distance.” You keep that. It is a part of your nationality. Its usage defines who you ARE.

    “Neat” is also wonderful. Not as wonderful as “keen” or “nifty,” but far better than “cool” or the oft-misused “awesome.”

    • annewoodman says:

      Nifty is a fave of mine. Neat has been brainwashed out of me. When I hear it now, it’s like nails on a chalkboard, unfortunately.

      When I encounter a fellow American, I might let “a-ways” sneak out away from my hubby’s ears. Shhh. Don’t tell.

  15. David Gentry says:

    In the future, I am going to walk every day. As opposed to “in the past”?

    Your question about why we are hurrying reminds me of one of my favorite cartoons. It’s a James Thurber. It is a side view of a man leaning forward while walking on a sidewalk. He is hurrying past a cemetary.

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