Has Christmas Really Changed?
I think most people have fond memories of Christmases of their youth, and perhaps those memories get glossed over and airbrushed with each passing year. As the memories get fainter, they become more and more like a Norman Rockwell painting rather than the less-than-perfect holiday it really was.
What I'm getting at is this: it's become a cliche to say Christmas today is materialistic and over-commercialized; whereas, when I was a kid it was quaint and humble. We've lost the Meaning of Christmas....... I call bullshit on that.
I'll grant you that we tend to spend a lot more. Gone are the days of being happy with a sweater, a cap gun, and some hard candy. But that was the A LONG time ago.... and, quite frankly, they didn't have the disposable income or credit to lavish their kids with gifts, otherwise, they might have.
I don't know about you, but I well remember the Christmases of the 1970s. Tons of TV commercials (I had to have the Mr. Microphone and Stretch Armstrong), tons of commercialization, tons of materialism.... to be perfectly honest, not much has changed in the past forty or so years.
Sure, the sheer volume of gifts has increased (thanks to high interest credit cards and slave labor in China), but Christmas in the seventies was a far, far cry from The Little House on the Prairie where Laura only gets a corn cob doll. In fact, the main culprits for the commercialization of Christmas can be found in the 1940s and 1950s. Once retailers found out that Christmas was a cash cow, there was no end to the milking of the Christmas spirit for financial gain. Soon, Ol' Saint Nick was schilling for Coke, RJ Reynolds, Norelco, and Frigidaire. Who knew the birth of Jesus could be such a commercial bonanza?
Of course, there have been a few changes. For one, the Christmas season has lengthened significantly.... to the point where we're are all nearly tired of it by the time it rolls around. I have to admit, it is a bit sickening to see the Christmas decorations being put up the day after Halloween. That I could live without.
Many would claim the religious aspect of the season is almost completely gone. They say the Christmas season has been essentially wiped clean of any connection to the Christian holy day. I would beg to differ.
We all remember Linus' speech in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, and we all remember the Rankin Bass Little Drummer Boy..... those were direct religious connections in the mainstream media. You just don't see that anymore in the mainstream... mainly because of the public outcry and litigation they'd receive. Wal-Mart and Starbucks don't say "Merry Christmas" because they'll get sued to hell and back.
However, there's still plenty of Nativity scenes in front yards, tons of religious programming on cable channels, and plenty of "Silent Night" and "Away in a Manger" being sung. People that bitch and moan about the True Meaning of Christmas being lost are just not looking. Churches will be standing room only on Christmas, and the day is what you make of it, really.
So, in summary, Christmas has changed significantly from 90 to 100 years ago.... but then, what hasn't? Christmas by and large is the same retail blitz it's always been for the past forty to fifty years. What say you?