Happy Holidays?

Lots of folks are not getting the season's greetings.

Too many are missing out on the spirit of the season

“So, this is Christmas, and what have we done?”

John Lennon asked that in his smash-hit ballad, which is so famous that it perhaps need not be specified by name, but I shall do as much anyway, Happy Xmas (War is Over). Lennon’s song is deep, meaningful, and somber, but it is not the purpose of this article.

The question Lennon poses at its onset, though, is something I would like to focus on. Every holiday season, ever since I was a boy, I have wandered around looking at stores dolled up, houses decorated with lights, and people bustling from one event to the next — whether they be shopping for loved ones, heading to seasonal parties, or something else upbeat.

In recent years, though, long before COVID largely killed public merriment, I have noticed changes for the worse. Quite a few of them, in fact. The first problem is that less and less houses are being decorated. During my childhood, which, while not yesterday, was hardly the stuff of ancients, one would point out houses that had no decorations because they were so unusual.

Now, I find myself fixated on houses with decorations as they are aberrations from the norm. Even many of these places feature only halfhearted efforts, sometimes leaving me wondering if the bare amount of lights placed outside are there for the holidays at all, or simply part of a yearlong display.

More distressing is that outdoor holiday decorations are almost exclusively the domain of upper-middle-to-upper-tier neighborhoods. In blue collar communities, there are virtually no decorations at all. While driving around these places, I am confronted with block after block of scenery that might as well be from mid-March. Once upon a time, not very distant from the present, neighborhoods of all financial strata (aside from the destitute) featured loads of exterior decorations.

Next up, the bustling department stores and smaller local ones which my mother would take me to as a lad — well, the ones that remain open, having long been ravaged by online retailing and, this year, COVID — still largely decorate for the holidays, and their cheery sale signs are on display as usual, but less and less folks fill the aisles. The public spirit of glee which I experienced as a child, part of an annual celebratory ritual for December, seems to have had the clock run out on it, at least by and large.

Finally, and this is not meant to conclude my full list of gripes, but I only wish to hold so much of your time, I have found a definite diminishing of big, lavish holiday parties, something which predates COVID, though the pandemic certainly has accelerated this pernicious phenomenon. It seems that a falling number of folks are interested in the concept of large, formal holiday celebrations. Exactly why this is, I cannot say, but it is indeed the case.

Keep in mind that all of the aforementioned is based only upon my experiences in one mid-sized Florida city and its surroundings; where I was born, raised, and still live. That being said, this city, and its county, vote reliably Republican, to an even greater degree than was the case in my youth, so one hardly can make the case that leftism has vanquished the holiday spirit.

The only winter holiday which I ever have cared about enough to observe on a personal level is Hanukkah. Christmas Eve and Day come and go without much feeling on my end. It has always been the holiday season itself, of which Christmas is the focal point in our society, that animates me. That stretch of time from Black Friday until New Year’s Day really is, as Andy Williams sang, “the most wonderful time of the year.”

To see so many people essentially forsake it is a sorry sight among sorry sights. Regrettably, I do not see a revival of traditional holiday festivities on the horizon. Things seem primed to worsen, likely considerably, as the years unfold.

My holiday wish for you, irrespective of which holiday you celebrate, even if only Festivus, is that you make the most of it. So many in our day and age just seem to let the holidays pass them by without experiencing the spirit of the season. Try to ensure that you are not among this group, however that works best on your end (within reason, of course — as always, no infringing upon the rights of others).

That being noted, cheers, and the happiest of holidays to all!

Picture of the Day

The Villages, Florida, taken by yours truly almost ten years ago. Feel free to use in any way you like; please credit me if used in public outside of social media, though.

Poem of the Day

By Richard Watson Gilder, from The New Day

V—LOVE GROWN BOLD

This is her picture painted ere mine eyes
⁠Her ever holy face had looked upon.
⁠She sitteth in a silence of her own;
⁠Behind her, on the ground, a red rose lies;
Her thinking brow is bent, nor doth arise
⁠Her gaze from that shut book whose word unknown
⁠Her firm hands hide from her; there all alone
⁠She sitteth in thought-trouble, maidenwise.
And now her lover waiting wondereth
⁠Whether the joy of joys is drawing near;
⁠Shall his brave fingers like a tender breath
That shut book open for her, wide and clear?
⁠From him who her sweet shadow worshipeth
⁠Now will she take the rose, and hold it dear?