Saturday, December 10, 2011

Boomer Christmas

You wouldn't know it by this picture, but those little houses are nearly falling apart, the angels are tarnished, the last surviving reindeer has one antler, and the quintuplet of bendy elves are now only twins. Although not having retrieved these items from storage for over twelve years, I lugged the old suitcase out (also full of tinsel remnants...who are playing at Stubbs tomorrow night by the way...and fake snow the color of fake ash.) The idea was to use them in a "nostalgia" display at the store, which just didn't happen. So as Kelly and I were beginning the task of putting ornaments on our previously lit tree, she was hijacked by a phone call and I took the opportunity to lay out this "village of the damned". As I had conveniently ducked away to the back room to avoid a look of horror I subconsciously was expecting, I heard the "Umm...honey?" Kelly's predicament of having her beautiful living room enlivened by the decorative equivalent of mildew was just too much. "But I put these up as kids!!!" I nasally protested. When I saw the beautiful ornaments she had ready to hang, I realized my little town of Reverie should be condemned. I knew I had a future blog out of it though. But being the creative good soul she is, Kelly salvaged my nostalgic dream and created, with some new snow and creative lighting, the scene you see.

Retro is the big thing this year for the holidays. You can read about the trends here. Thanks to the appeal of the series Mad Men and the retro chic style throwbacks, the holiday season is the perfect time to express our sense of, well, cheerful fatality.

In spirit with the theme of my blog, I will share a few of my Christmas memories. As a good geek, most revolve around the television set. Why is it we rail against commericalism nowadays when so much of our childhood was actually informed by such, maybe not as crass and crude as today, but consumer-driven nonetheless. Starting with the Macy's Parade....a department show hosting previews of Broadway musicals and a parade with cereal character balloons and current prime time tv stars....Santa's visit down the wintry Ed McMahon-lined avenue ushered in the new toy commercials to come on Saturday morning.

You knew you would catch the annual screening of Rudolph and the Peanuts gang. Or this
chestnut, remember?

This was before the advent of cable or vhs..appointment tv it was called. (Actually, the vinyl records of soundtracks provided the only PLAY ON DEMAND we had in those days. And what's hot now? Vinyl!! )

San Antonio was a great place to grow up for Christmas. We had the Windcrest lights and Santa at North Star Mall. But anyone who grew up in SA during those days will never forget the spectacle of a Joske's Winter Wonderland. Man, if it weren't for department stores what would we have done? Let's not forget fast food. It's hard to even walk into a McDonald's these days, but as a kid there was no better place to imbibe on Apple Pies and twenty five cent cheeseburgers.

And what would Christmas Eve be without the thirty-minute Tonight Show replacement featuring Doc Severinson and the NBC Orchestra which was repeated over and over for years.

So what is it about yesterday's memories that hasten a reliving? Why are the boomers holding sway with their dysfunctional pasts? (I really shouldn't let us take all the blame....the eighties have co-opted the retro boom revisiting video games that this technophobe stil hasn't heard about.) I can only speak for myself (which is what a blog is for, I suppose) but it seems that time moves so fast now, what with the 24-hour news cycle. Current events stay current for maybe twenty minutes before your facebook feed alerts you a new headline. Trends are timeless only in that they last for hardly any time at all.

As I notice that the rerun of Rankin-Bass's Rudolph garnered top 10 network ratings last week, it shows me that people are hungry for family programming that still has some innocence, that isn't rooted in snarky humor based on bodily functions and pre-teen sexual innuendo that is so common nowadays. I remember attending the Zilker Trail of Lights in Austin one season and one of the sections featuring cartoon characters, for all the kids to enjoy, had cutouts of old Warner Brothers characters, Peanuts characters, some Smurf action, Woody Woodpecker, Disney and Dr. Seuss and.....South Park? That's right.
Soon we will consider it quaint to watch a Soprano's Family Christmas Celebration or the Snoop Dog Blunt Holiday Special. We already have a Victoria Secret Christmas.

The boomers are to blame though. We have created an environment of permissiveness in media content and advertising that has taken away the charm, the warmth of the Charlie Brown tree search and replaced it with in your face SNL jokes about holiday "Schwette Balls." Give the audience what they want. The audience that you helped create, I guess. Now we can watch a foul-mouthed Cartman tear down all traditions in the name of satire and this is now considered family viewing. It all has it's place, of course, and what some people call "adult sophisticated entertainment" nowadays I call lazy crude bathroom humor. But those of us who haven't grown up with that kind of abrasiveness as the norm do revert back to the quiet, sensitive, good-natured entertainment, and, yes, advertising of the good ol' days.

By the way, my little village didn't make it to the store, but I put together a nostalia display featuring old cartoon Christmas albums, vhs tapes and children's books reflecting the sixties and seventies. In front, I placed a stack of books, "Christmas Wishes" regaling all these commercial Christmas memories with photos and essays.....and only one is left.

So I am grateful for my memories this year. But more grateful to have someone to make new memories with!

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