Sunday, December 27, 2015

Is Christmas a fading spirit?

Daniel Henninger muses whether Christmas is passing away in the Wall Street Journal

This is the year Christmas died as a public event in the United States.

A "Holiday" window in NYC. Credit: AP
 We know this after touring the historic heart of public Christmas—Fifth Avenue in New York City.

For generations, American families have come to New York in December to swaddle themselves in the glow and spirit of Christmas—shops, restaurants, brownstones, the evergreen trees along Park Avenue, bar mirrors and, most of all, Fifth Avenue’s department-store windows. You couldn’t escape it, and why would you want to?

A friend, an ardent atheist, would be inconsolable if he couldn’t sing Handel’s entire “Messiah” with 3,000 other revelers this month at Lincoln Center. Even if the only god you worship is yourself, December in New York has always been about the bustling good cheer flowing from the Christian holiday.

For many, December required a pilgrimage to Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor and Bergdorf Goodman. No matter the weather, people walked the mile from 38th Street to 59th Street and jammed sidewalks to see these stores’ joyful Christmas windows.

Stay home. This year Fifth Avenue in December is about . . . pretty much nothing, or worse.

To be sure, the magnificent Rockefeller Center Christmas tree still stands, and directly across on Fifth Avenue is St. Patrick’s Cathedral, its facade washed and hung with a big green wreath. But walk up or down the famous avenue this week and what you and your children will see is not merely Christmas scrubbed, but what one can only describe as the anti-Christmas....

On Fifth Avenue this year you can’t even find dear old Santa Claus. Or his elves. Christmas past has become Christmas gone.

The scenes inside Saks Fifth Avenue’s many windows aren’t easy to describe. Saks calls it “The Winter Palace.” I would call it Prelude to an Orgy done in vampire white and amphetamine blue.

A luxuriating woman lies on a table, her legs in the air. Saks’ executives, who bear responsibility for this travesty, did have the good taste to confine to a side street the display of a passed-out man on his back (at least he’s wearing a tux), spilling his martini, beneath a moose head dripping with pearls. Adeste Gomorrah.

But you haven’t seen the anti-Christmas yet. It’s up at 59th Street in the “holiday” windows of Bergdorf Goodman. In place of anything Christmas, Bergdorf offers “The Frosty Taj Mahal,” a palm-reading fortune teller—and King Neptune, the pagan Roman god, seated with his concubine. (One Saks window features the Roman Colosseum, the historic site of Christian annihilation.)

I thought: Lord & Taylor! Surely the iconic Christmas windows on 38th Street won’t shelve St. Nick. They did. He’s gone, replaced by little bears and cupcakes, gingerbread men and Canada geese.

There is one holdout to the de-Santification of America: In Macy’s windows at Sixth Avenue and 34th Street—as in “Miracle on 34th Street”—the characters of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” frolic in Yuletide splendor.

The Christmas-less feeling along once-famous Fifth Avenue this year is similar to the loss one feels reading the last lines of “Casey at the Bat”—a shattering, historic strikeout.

The erasure of Christmas between the grinding stones of secular fanaticism will persist. Eventually the holiday will be forbidden, forgotten and filed away in attic boxes. But maybe God, in His usual mysterious way, is nudging us back toward the beginning.

Once the inevitable Federal Office of Diversity and Inclusion has joined with the commercial cynics at Saks and Bergdorf’s to suppress even Santa, what pretext will parents have to give gifts to their Christmas-cleansed children? Amazon Day?

In the post-Christmas era, the infant Jesus and Santa Claus will go back to the catacombs of early Christian life, where you won’t have to say happy holidays to anyone. Christmas as we know it will die off, and what will be left on December 25th will look a lot like Thanksgiving, but smaller.

Unless celebrating Christmas in America becomes a prosecutable crime, as it was in the Soviet Union, families will go to church in the morning to renew the beginnings of their faith and then spend the day at home listening to pirated copies of the carols and hymns on Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” album. For radical refuseniks, I recommend playing, at the highest possible volume, “The Bells of St. Mary’s” on Phil Spector’s “A Christmas Gift for You.”

As for Saks and the other Fifth-Avenue sellouts, I have two words this season. They aren’t Merry Christmas. Rest of column


Anonymous said...

Welcome to the liberal utopia of "multi culturalosm"...the truth is most Jewish or other populations aren't offended by saying merry Christmas or decorative lights trees etc... just white liberals feel ashamed. Look at Austin TX for example they've banned decorations on public & private land for muslims may be offended. This is after no reported complains. Just a safety measure to not radicalized them... no kidding.

Anonymous said...

Some people do not care what people call the holidays. Many do not know Christmas was already a holiday hundreds of years before the Christians decided to use the date for their holidays. No one knows when Jesus was born but it sure wasn't December 25. All it takes is reading the bible. It is right there in print. Most people have not read the bible but were told what to believe.

thusbloggedanderson said...

This is one of the stupidest things I have ever read in my entire life.

What is a series of store windows if not "secular"?

What has Santa Claus got to do with the incarnation of God the Son as a sacrifice for our sins?

What kind of idiot looks for the true meaning of Christmas on Fifth Avenue? (Note to WSJ: there's a large country out here. Come visit sometime.)

Absolutely mind-boggling. I'd call it hypocrisy, except the guy is too devoid of self-awareness to be faking his stupidity.

Anonymous said...

I say BS

Anonymous said...

Sorry the last link to an article from 2012. Here's one from 2015.

Anonymous said...

BS is not understanding even rudementary HTML formatting in 2015.

Anonymous said...

Thus goes the way of all civilizations. We just don't like it when it is ours. It is the price of the FALL. All will be well and all WILL BE well, ans all matter of things will be well. Trust. Peace.

Anonymous said...

Glad the backwoods Wal-Mart in my little podunk town put up a 15 foot tree this year. And some of their cashiers even said "Merry Christmas". The real feat would be to hear them say it through January 6.

SMH said...

Why would anybody waste their time posting that a municipality can ban seasonal decorations on private property?

Anonymous said...

I feel a song in my bones:

Where are you Christmas
Why can't I find you
Why have you gone away
Where is the laughter
You used to bring me
Why can't I hear music play

My world is changing
I'm rearranging
Does that mean Christmas changes too

Where are you Christmas
Do you remember
The one you used to know
I'm not the same one
See what the time's done
Is that why you have let me go

Christmas is here
Everywhere, oh
Christmas is here

Anonymous said...

Oh good grief, Charlie Brown!
Such nonsense!
His memory of past windows is flawed and he apparently didn't go into the stores!
I take it he missed the parade along with the other numerous traditional Christmas events in New York this year.
Maybe he had a heat stroke!

Anonymous said...

Let goods and kindred go; this mortal life also. The body they may kill; God's Truth abideth still. His Kingdom is forever.

Anonymous said...

If one needs store windows for Christmas, know they the Savior that came? Jesus, born in a stable and placed in a feed trough for animals, didn't need any stores on 5th Avenue.

Even the Grinch learned that from the Whos in Whoville....

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There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

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This is definitely a Beaver production.

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