Monday, January 19, 2009

Keeping Christmas in Christmas

(This was originally written on Dec. 12, 2008, but due to some technical difficulties it wasn't posted at the time.)

Christmas can be a depressing time of year for many people. Truly, you don't have to be penniless to go on a major downer at Christmas. In the "bad news makes good copy" mindset of the media, it follows as the night the day that a newspaper will have, stuffed in amongst the adverts telling us how to have a happy unspecified holiday (g'day, Stuart Shepard!*), a feature-length piece on some psychology boffin talking about how depressed people get at Christmastime?

Don't think there isn't a connection. The more our society tries to excise Jesus from talk of Christmas, the more we're left with some bizarre near-winter ritual that involves buying stuff and eating fancy food and having parties but no apparent reason - and certainly no expression of Hope. We're left with stupid songs about "the man with the bag" and forced fun that has all the sincerity of a Tom Vu seminar. No wonder people get depressed, no matter what their income bracket. That's a truth Charlie Brown uncovered 43 years ago, and somehow it's fallen further away from us, no matter how many times we watch that show and mouth along with Linus, "Lights, please".**

* If you haven't yet, check out Stuart's video, Merry Tossmas. A group of us sent that link to various mall administration offices in October, letting them know that this "said it all" for us, and that we'd be spending our Christmas shopping money at malls and other retailers that actually do go out on a limb and use the "X"-word ("Christmas") in their marketing. Central City in Surrey did - although the girl in their picture was in a yoga position. Baby steps ... baby steps ...

**Interestingly, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" dang near didn't get aired. CBS TV executives were spooked by three elements of the cartoon:
  1. they used real kids' voices - not women
  2. the soundtrack was modern jazz
  3. the story line turned on a Biblical quote.

Only the three elements that made it a smash hit ... CBS often rivals the CBC in its track record for creative meddling. This time, though, Bill Melendez and Charles M. Schulz stood their ground.

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