A Cynical View of Christmas


So – today as I was driving to work, I was looking around at the new snowfall we’d gotten, and thinking about how pretty it was. It wasn’t pretty two hours previous when school was delayed, but it was pretty now. But I’m driving along and the Meredith Willson song It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas starts playing in my head. And of course I start humming it. Then it hits me – this song, in this day and age, makes absolutely no sense! Only us old folks remember the “five and dimes”, and also going downtown to the department stores (every one of them had toys) to go shopping. This song was written in a more genteel time, when there were no shopping malls, ladies always wore dresses and everyone wore hats. But it really struck me at how things have changed. Christmas is no longer a celebration of the birth of the Christ Child. Now it is, as Lucy Van Pelt would say “a big commercial racket. It’s run by a big Eastern syndicate, you know!” So I started contemplating – what is today’s equivalent of a five and dime store? When the answer came to me, my slightly deranged brain began to rewrite the song, and it came out something like this:

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas (2007)
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, every where you go
Take a look in the dollar store, glistening once more
With Chinese imports lined up in a row
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, shopping online stores
And you’ll notice diversity, Kwanzaa candles there will be
At the house next door
A pair of Pokemon balls and a cell phone that calls
Is the wish of Barney and Ben
Dolls that go pee and a new MP3
Is the hope of Janice and Jen
And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, more and more each day
There’s a tree in the shopping mall, but not in the school’s hall
The ACLU took that one away
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, it’s that time you know
Oh to be a small child again, think I’ll go outside and then
I’ll play IN DA SNOW!!!
Cynical? I suppose so. But at this point in my life, I’d like to see things slow down a little. I very nostalgically wish for the days when Woolworth’s and Petersen’s ruled downtown Davenport, and toy recalls were unheard of. And I especially wish that more people saw Christmas for what it really is: the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child, that meaning of Christmas that Linus quotes to Charlie Brown in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. A more genteel time when re-enacting the Nativity as your school play wasn’t unheard of, but was actually encouraged.
Maybe this year, I’ll wear a hat.

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