|Photo: Southern Living|
I had a dream this morning. I was driving through our little town, and I noticed photography being done around the marble balustrades of the Elkmont Courthouse, which was just uphill and beside my screenprinting shop, which was down a little side street to my left. I went to speak to the elfin blonde photographer, and she turned me around and showed me the amazing job our local department store had done decorating for Christmas.
Given that our Town Hall occupies an quarter of a metal utility building, which also contains our volunteer fire department, and the closest thing we have to a department store is Dollar General, I began to understand that I was dreaming.
What can I say? The store was enormous...must have covered half a city block, built in the gingerbready reddish-brown brick and concrete favored in the early twentieth century. The windows, grimy with accretions of city traffic exhaust, still shone with the tinsel and light within, promising a wonderland of Christmas color to all who entered.
I awoke shortly, after finding myself changing clothes in the hallway of a starship.
I awoke wistful, remembering my childhood, calling to mind those very wonderlands I had experienced as a little boy. Certainly, you could go to Sears, or to the local five-and-dime and find toys year-round, but it was pedestrian fare, bikes, yo-yos, hula hoops, cap guns, dolls; the stuff to see a kid through birthdays and good grades on the report card. But CHRISTMAS! The local small-town Sears store was ablaze with colored lights and shiny streamers, a majestic tree in the window. and beneath the tree, a bounty that (you hoped) presaged the trove to be found under YOUR aluminium tree at home come December the Twenty-Fifth (Correct!). Even the grocery stores were festooned with tinsel AND toys, the playthings courtesy of Deluxe Reading (pronounced "redding"), a company that marketed through food stores. Christmastime (you know, the holiday period that occurred AFTER Thanksgiving) was a time bursting with Things You Did Not See the Other Eleven Months.
In short, a special time. (Lest the history-ignorant crowd who take umbrage at the use of "Xmas" take ALL the umbrage, let me say "Put down your 'Jesus is the Reason for the Season' picket signs. This is not about that aspect of the season. Trust me, a moral is in the offing, and you may feel spiritually superior all the more for it.") Sights to see, foods to eat, smells to enjoy unlike any other holiday. If there be an American melting pot, then it is Christmastide.
But, to again quote Commodore Decker: "Not 'ny more!". Walmart shelves are bursting year-round. Toy stores are filled with the same stuff year-round; all Christmas does is provide a time to roll out the new models. It is "everywhere, everywhere Christmas tonight" every night. I can pull out a DVD and watch "Rudolph" or "It's a Wonderful Life" in August, if I so choose. A con friend wrote on her Facebook: