Bar_WorldBlue_Ultrapolis_World.jpg HAPPY HOLIDAYS

Monday, December 31, 2012 - Volume 3, Number 24

© Copyright 2012, The Ultrapolis Project.  All Rights Reserved.

Christmas to Disappear in Thirty Years

Twisted and Stretched by Profit Motive Beyond Recognition, Christmas To Fade


·         Cartoon “A Christmas Story” by Mark Steele & Roberts



The End of Christmas

As You Know it Today


We might be made to unconsciously absorb the suggestion that it is always Christmas and normal to be flat broke.


George Dixon, Newspaper Columnist

On the subliminal advertising scare of the 1950’s



Father on Christmas Past


Subliminal advertising eventually did fall in disfavor, but there is no doubt the strong influence of marketing messages by powerful commercial interests have been remarkably successful in the last sixty years in shaping the public’s conception of Christmas.  In the face of multi-billion dollar campaigns, churches are almost mute in defending the old traditions. 


Even when pastors or priests do speak about the difference between the season of the Mass of Christ and the season of corporate-driven sales and shopping, few hear the words.  On one occasion, around Thanksgiving, I attended a service where an old priest, surely in his eighties, spoke about the way Christmas used to be observed when he was a child (Perhaps the 1940’s).  The frail old man spoke wistfully about his memories, and pleadingly to the congregation, of when ringing bells and rising evergreens decked in lights and beautifully blown glass heralded, on Christmas Eve, the arrival of a Christmas that lasted twelve nights, and closed with special traditions on the Day of the Epiphany. 


It was a time when the secular and religious Christmas Season were still one, and the days after December 25 were celebrated without sales and shopping trips, but only with feasts and gatherings in communion.  It was a time when just as Churches of all stripes lit their Christmas trees for the first time on Christmas Eve, so was the secular tree of the nation (until 1953, the National Christmas Tree was always lit on Christmas Eve).


His remarks done, the old priest, slightly hunched, shuffled of quietly, and rather sadly, back into the past.


When the service was over, a good and kind friend who had also attended the service caught up with me, and the first thing he asked me on this mid-November day was “have you put up your Christmas Tree yet?”  I realized then that the Christmas of the old man was not ever coming back, at least not in my lifetime, and certainly not in his.  More than that, I have slowly come to the realization that the Christmas most people recognize today will also be gone in another thirty years.



The Slow, Yet Relentless Steamroller


In an earlier publication, back in 1995, I predicted then that the “Christmas” season would eventually be understood to start in September, right after Labor Day (by 2045, to quote myself).  During those days, most shopping centers got themselves in holiday décor by mid-November, and friends of mine scoffed at my prediction.  These days, major retail venues are in Christmas trappings by mid-October, with stragglers in gear by Halloween.  Locally, in 2000, Weingarten Realty put up its holiday lights up on November 1 in most of its shopping centers, like the West Gray Shopping Center.  This year it did so on October 5, a date that twenty years ago would have been considered preposterous, and fifty years ago, insane.  Today, most young people are excited that “it’s Christmas!” in mid-autumn, and don’t question why we have winter motifs everywhere just a little over a month after the end of summer.


Meanwhile, businesses now make sure to remove all signs of Christmas as soon as the last sale is rung.  In Macy’s case, they stopped “believing” on December 18, and all signs of a holiday season were gone by December 24. 


Continued >



From column 1

As one Starbucks employee said to me in regards to Starbuck’s own strict policy of having everything gone by close of business December 25, “they’re doing it backwards.”


“Bah! Humbug!” to “Ho-Hum”


But, we human beings, however shallow and pleasure-seeking we may be, are not built to be in a state of celebration for months on end.  We get jaded and bored.  Already people tire of Christmas before December 25 arrives.  Trees start showing up in dumpsters almost as soon as the last gift is opened.  I once personally attended a Christmas Day gathering to find our hostess had already taken the tree down because, as she said, she had gotten “tired of it.”  Well, of course, my dear.


She was one of those persons who loved shopping, and always had to get everything done early.  You know the type.  They’re the ones who start clearing plates before everyone is finished eating, or start taking decorations down from party events 30 minutes before the party is supposed to end.  They are always about what’s next, and can never just be still and enjoy the present.


In the end, as the holiday season is stretched to cover one third of the year, and the early birds keep pushing it along while songs that before were only heard for a precious few days a year blare over speakers for evermore weeks and weeks, the numbness that has already begun to set in will grow.  Soon, the season will come when the young adults will lose interest.  Their children will in turn not develop the nostalgia of Christmas. The civic Christmas observances will not come back at all, and even the National Christmas Tree may be forced to go, under the legal assault of those, growing in numbers, who find suspect all things Christian or even hinting of religion.



Celebration & Meaning in One


Does all this matter?  As much as fixing the broken windows in our neighborhoods matters (Broken Windows Theory).  Though it may not seem like much, such things influence how we think about ourselves and our place in the world. Holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, should be observed in a way that is true to their history and purpose; in a way that educates and elevates us in our understanding of who we are as a people and what we believe we should value most.  Holidays are for celebration, but more importantly for teaching and remembering.


Christmas, in its broader, earlier American conception, was joy and meaning together that helped keep us together as a people.  The teachings of Christ, whether one believes in his divinity or not, have long been at the core of a Judeo-Christian ethic that is the foundation of our civilization and our laws, and that has kept us in agreement on what is right and what is wrong.  Care for the weak in body, forgiveness for the weak of mind.  Peace and Goodwill to All.  That was something we could all celebrate.  This is not to denigrate or diminish the ethical and moral foundations of other societies.  It is merely a recognition of ours.


Continued >


From column 1

Connected Across Space & Time


As I said in my commentary on the Fall of Thanksgiving, we are all gradually going shopping our separate ways, and I do see that as a permanent loss for all us, Christian and not.  But, I heard you old man, and I am going with you.  As I have gradually learned that the Christmas I grew up with was already drifting away from its foundations, I have - gradually - moved in the other direction.  Gradually, because I too cannot easily ignore my own childhood nostalgia.  So, I compromise, and each year form new memories where I want them to be for the years to come.  I bring my family with me, and gently instruct my nieces and nephews on who we are as a people, and why we celebrate as we do, today’s fleeting world notwithstanding.  I can honestly say that while I no longer feel the nostalgic ‘magic’ of Christmas as I once did, these later Christmases have been the most fulfilling.


Yes, the shopping Christmas will eventually be gone, as will the national Christmas we used to celebrate together.  But, for us believers in the teachings of one Jesus of Nazareth, we will remain. To quote from an earlier Ultrapolis essay, “The Lost Twelve Days of Christmas”:


Long after our Western culture has faded or been vanquished, Christmas may very well be marked on the Christian calendar as it has been, for the remainder of humanity’s existence.  Across the ages kings and presidents, languages and cities, empires and republics, even our noble and beloved United States of America, will all one day pass away into memory.  But, the traditions that serve as the vessel of the message born two-thousand years ago, though they may wax and wane through the ages, will bind us.  And thusly, as holy people have long explained, those who observe the same days in similar manner are connected to those in the past, as well as those of the future:  They are, and ever will be, one body of common belief, connected across space and time.




Dear Esteemed Reader,


Mark, Mike, and I take the opportunity of these festive days to extend to you, regardless of persuasion, our warmest expressions of goodwill, and our hope to always join with you in admiration and celebration of all that is beautiful and good on this earth.


Merry Christmas Season


Happy New Year 2013


Our forecast record cannot be beat.  One can follow the herd chasing the latest hyperbolic, melodramatic, and soon-forgotten micro-trend on Facebook and Twitter, or one can be wisely and judiciously in front of it with UWFR. 


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