NOTE: The wizard often asks me if he can post something in the rabbit hole.
Sometimes I say yes. Sometimes I say no.
This time I told him, “After Christmas.”
He wrote the following on the Saturday after
Thanksgiving, 2015, the day after Black Friday.
I didn’t let him post it until now because I knew it would freak out
all the retailers who were hoping to see a big Christmas. – Indiana Beagle
I’ve got a weird theory but I’m going to share it with you, anyway. I could easily be wrong.
In fact, I hope I am.
I believe Christmas is less special than it was 10 years ago.
There. I said it: Someone let the air out of Christmas.
Cassy says it’s because we’ve become distracted by technology.
Andrew says we’re less religious.
Pam says it’s because we live in a fiercely fact-based society.
Charlie says we’re rejecting commercialism.
But all four friends agree that Christmas is losing its romance, its magic, its sparkle.
I quietly agree with all of them.
Gosh, I hope we’re wrong.
I remember when the December TV schedule was blanketed with Christmas specials and recording artists released Christmas albums and young children were chosen to play Mary or Joseph or one of the shepherds “abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night,” and everyone happily pretended that reindeer could fly.
We call the day after Thanksgiving “Black Friday” because we like to pretend it’s the day retailers go from red ink to black on their profit and loss statements. But this year’s ink wasn’t as black as it has been in the past. Here’s what we were told the morning after Black Friday, 2015:
CNN Money reported, “Black Friday isn’t as special as it used to be.”
NBC News said, “Maybe it’s time to go back to calling Black Friday the day after Thanksgiving.”
Time gave us the headline, “Black Friday Sales Down More Than $1 Billion.” (A decline of 10.4 percent compared to last year.) They got their numbers from ShopperTrak, who reported, “Brick and mortar sales on Black Friday fell from $11.6 billion in 2014 to $10.4 billion in 2015.”
Stephen Baker of NPD Group (a market research firm) suggested that it may be time to drop the moniker Black Friday altogether, saying, “We’re on the path to a very different kind of holiday selling season then we’ve had in the past.”
Jeffrey Eisenberg tells me that online sales are definitely up, but not nearly enough to account for the decline in traditional brick-and-mortar dollars.
I believe it’s a convergence of 5 things. My friends very accurately summarized four of them. The fifth one is my own observation.
We’ve become distracted by technology.
We’re less comfortable with public confessions of faith.
We’re living in an increasingly fact-based society.
We’re quietly rejecting commercialism as we search for deeper experience.
We’ve lost our appreciation of whimsy.
An appreciation of fiction requires “a willing suspension of disbelief.”
Has disbelief become so important to us that we’re no longer willing to suspend it?
Have we – in our digital-age search for facts and data and information – discounted and trivialized the art of storytelling? In their official request that the universities of Japan “eliminate the humanities and the arts” from their academic curricula, is the government of Japan simply following our lead?
Have we replaced the novelist with the blogger?
Have we replaced literature with Facebook?
Have we replaced comic books with video games?*
Was it we who deflated Christmas?
Roy H. Williams
*Yes, I consider comics to be an important form of storytelling.
Graphic sequential storytelling is an art.