The holiday season has come once again. Christmas specials on TV, Christmas shopping taking over retail stores. Bing Crosby’s White Christmas is playing somewhere that I can hear it at least three times a day. But you hear Mariah Carey more. And Bing Crosby has been dead for decades. And the Christmas Special is about the Guardians of the Galaxy kidnapping Kevin Bacon. Even Kevin Bacon hasn’t been doing the Footloose dance for more than thirty years. Things have changed. This is not the world I knew.
I haven’t believed in Santa Claus since the 1960s. And most of the people who I was once surrounded by in the holiday season are now gone. Great Grandma Hinckley passed away in 1980. Grandpa Aldrich passed in 1995. Both of my Grandmothers were gone by 2003. Both of my parents, one of my aunts, one of my cousins, and numerous people I used to know in Iowa disappeared from my life permanently during the pandemic, though mostly not from Covid.
I distinctly remember laughing at Red Skelton’s Freddy the Freeloader Christmas Special, and by the end of the show, crying in sympathy with the main characters in the story. But Red Skelton is long gone. And when I showed my own kids a DVD, they didn’t understand what I even found funny. And I started listing all the Christmas-special entertainers that are all now long gone.
Andy Williams, Perry Como, Lawrence Welk, and Jackie Gleason are all now long gone. My kids don’t have any idea who those people are. In fact, you reading this probably haven’t watched any of their Christmas specials.
Gone are the hours of entertainment to be had with the arrival of the various Christmas catalogs. I can remember memorizing certain pages and prices in the toy section.
But Cohristmas shopping now is superceded by browsing Amazon, something my children apparently do year round with no special holiday feeling attached.
The Ghost of Christmas Present now seems like a half-starved imitation of the Ghost of Christmas Past. Though the Ghost of Christmas Future is still pretty much the Grim Reaper.
I suppose it is because I am now old that I mourn how things used to be. But dwelling on nostalgia seems more relevant to me now than embracing the difficult world as it is.