I’ve struggled a bit these winter months. I suffer from depression as a whole, however, the fall months are the worst. I find myself feeling very bleak this time of year. I’m often very deep in thought or cocooned in a persistent somber mood. Since right before Thanksgiving my thought processes have shifted. I’ve found myself thinking about how different Christmas is now from the way it was growing up.
Granted, I’m about to turn 32 this month I’ve discovered that with the continuous technological growth over the past twenty or so years things seem more different than they do the same. I discussed this with a former colleague of mine just recently. He too feels that there is just something very different. I find it hard to put into words but it’s as if the veneer, the nostalgia, of things once so valued has changed. To that end, Christmas Just Ain’t Christmas.
In my youth I remember the holidays being a big and wonderful thing. I could count on a non-commercially interrupted Thanksgiving with turkey and all the trimmings as well as December being the start of the Christmas season. Now, Halloween comes, then Christmas is ushered into retail stores and as of this year, Thanksgiving is being used as the new official start day for doorbuster deals. Is there nothing sacred? We seem to be sprinting to the finish line on a race of endurance. I’m sure some retailers will say, “We wait until six or eight before pushing our products so that people can spend time as a family.” However, we’re one of the most overworked nations. It’s a luxury to not only have benefit time but also in being able to find the time to use it. What is so wrong with Black Friday that it has to encroach on Thanksgiving? I mean, there’s also Cyber Monday! Personally I think all of it is an unnecessary circus. I do think that even if you don’t take part in the shopping frenzy, these activities and new norms have changed us.
Think about it. We seem to zoom by so much as we travel the technological superhighway. Halloween isn’t always celebrated on Halloween, retailers in general see Thanksgiving as non-profitable holiday thus pushing the Christmas season back into November. Add to that the fact that we can no longer count on it being a white or even cold Christmas. Maybe it really is just nostalgia. Maybe my mind looks at the past with rose-colored glasses. But if in fact these changes are real, what will come of the holiday season five years from now? And with technology and kids learning how to use them so early, will the excitement of Santa Claus be a thing of the past?
Life is just so different now. Kids, in general, seem less interested in reading, make believe, or any of the things that make childhood such a magical time. No longer do kids want books, dolls, or action hero figures, they want an iPad or some other iteration of a game system or electronic toy. Nowadays parents have to be more deliberate and active in protecting and even limiting a child’s exposure to everything. I really must be getting old but I just wish we could all slow down, take the time to really take it all in. While we have gained so much in the technological advances of our time, I do think that there is a part of what life and experiences are that we lose in the process. Some of these things, the innocence, the creativity, the nurturing, we may never truly get back. How much of the growth and change a good thing and how much is bad? Is it worth the cost?
I had my best friend (and famous pulp author) review my article and he became quite animated and a bit agitated. He noted that I don’t live with a child and that what he’s experienced and continues to experience with his son is that “through his eyes Christmas is just as magical.” He adds that his son knows nothing of Black Friday and is anxious each Christmas to put out cookies for Santa. I see his point. I suppose what I’m feeling is me missing MY childhood, when I did feel that magic. Maybe it is as he says, “It is different now. You’re a grown up and don’t have the same wonder that you once did. You should see it through their eyes and not your weary ones.”
This article appeared on page 5A in the 12/12/12 issue of The Union-Recorder.