I mentioned in one of my recent posts that I tend to associate the late 40’s – 50’s with Christmas for some reason. Now, this era does tend to be romanticized quite a lot in pop culture and many of the tumultuous events that were happening are glossed over. Post war America though seemed like a more peaceful time, a more harmonious time in American history. The country was rebuilding itself, families separated by war were reuniting or finding ways to move on and society was united by common goals. Christmas was a much bigger deal it seems because most people, probably worldwide, didn’t have the means to be consuming all year. Shopping was a treat, more of an experience whereas now, Americans shop constantly (to the tune of $13.86 trillion in credit card debt) and goods are widely available. I’d love to see Christmas become a simpler celebration rather than the blow-out, consumerist extravaganza it has always been during my lifetime. Obviously, it wasn’t a progressive era but here’s why they did the holidays better.
Department stores used to be beautiful, not the tiled, fluorescent monstrosities or nearly vacant malls that exist now. You could have your purchases wrapped by someone who took pride in their vocation. Now, I schlep into a store, get ignored by the associates, check myself out, whip all my shit into a bag and leave. Consumers want more stuff for less and the whole experience has been cheapened to meet this demand. Also, stores actually closed – what a concept.
Now, I think that the artificial tree came out during this era which is good and bad I suppose. You can reuse them for a long time, they can be more accessible to families who can’t afford the whole natural tree thing but it sucks when you have to throw one out. Shiny Brite started producing affordable ornaments (still do to this day), outdoor decor became more prevalent, those inflatable lawn ornaments weren’t a thing. I love looking at Christmas lights but I often wonder if people just hate their neighbors. The White House had one classy tree instead of a dozen, what is that about anyway?
I recently watched a documentary on NORAD and the story of how they got started tracking Santa is delightful. It was actually a typo that lead to children calling the military on Christmas Eve in 1955 and rather than turning it into a national security issue, it was handled with good humor and operators were directed to give the kids an ETA on Santa. The following year, NORAD officially started tracking Santa’s Christmas Eve journey.
Nothing against mall Santa, the one at MOA is actually pretty good but department store Santa is definitely the more classy of the two.
Overall, it’s just the quaintness of the era and doing so much with so little that appeals to me. Was it all good? Probably not, I mean, the food couldn’t have been great, I feel like the candied ham, green bean casserole and fruitcake were products of this era. Miracle on 34th Street is the saddest movie I’ve probably ever seen. If Mad Men is accurate, everyone was smoking themselves to death and having extra marital affairs. But overall, if I could go back to a simpler time while maintaining the progressive values of a 2019 society, I absolutely would. What about you, what vintage concepts would you like to see as part of the modern Christmas celebration?