Baseball season just ended.
It must be time for -- Santa?!
In case some kid wrote a Christmas list before trick-or-treating, St. Nick is nearly here.
The Jolly One himself lands Saturday in Grapevine and Hurst, launching the annual Occupy Stores event.
At Bass Pro Shops in Grapevine, Santa's arrival Saturday night will mark the opening of an entire holiday exhibit, crafts village and train display called Santa's Wonderland.
The biggest wonder of all is that Christmas has vaulted in front of Thanksgiving. And Veterans Day.
"We're starting early because there's a demand," said Katie Mitchell, a spokesman for Missouri-based Bass Pro.
Children aren't lining up yet asking for Santa.
But stores want them to line up.
The average lap time with Santa is about a minute. So even the most industrious Santa can take only about 17,000 requests before Christmas.
This is Bass Pro Shops' first year to have Santa on hand weeknights plus weekends.
"It got crazy last year," said Mitchell, a Mineral Wells native.
"And I was in [another big-box store] last month and they were selling Christmas trees. I think we're starting the season later than other stores."
When the New York-based International Council of Shopping Centers surveyed malls a few years ago, the average mall decorated Nov. 1. Santa typically arrived the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is now considered mostly a food-and-football day.
In Hurst, North East Mall is preparing for Saturday morning and "Santa's Grand Arrival."
Firefighters will pick him up at the remote sleigh parking and drive him into the food court.
(It's the only way he can get through Airport Freeway traffic.)
"I know it seems odd, but Santa just likes to get to Hurst early," said Holly Conner, the mall marketing director.
North East Mall has always been an early-Santa mall, dating back to its competition against the now-gone North Hills Mall.
"It's become a tradition," Conner said.
That's what we used to say about Thanksgiving.