Will Edwinson

Author & Storyteller

Christmas As It Used to Be—Part II

Three Wise MenThis post may read like a repeat of the one last week, but it’s really a continuation. In recent years, the traditional “Christmas Season” appears to have been taken over and replaced by the politically correct “Holiday Season.” The old movie channel is one place, however, where I can still find a semblance of the old traditions of Christmas.  I would venture to say that in all the movies made prior to 1960 that have Christmas included in their stories, the true spirit of Christmas, i.e., peace on earth good will toward men, and remembrance of Jesus’ birth was the major focus.  One of my all-time favorites that comes to mind is Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”  Lionel Barrymore used to read this story on the radio every Christmas season before it was made into a movie. Another is The Bishops Wife with Cary Grant and Loretta Young.  An angel comes to earth to help a Bishop who has his priorities mixed up.  He’sforgotten why he is a bishop.

 There were actually real Christmas songs played within these older movies.  I’m not talking about the secular holiday songs—there were some of those too—but rather the so-called “holy” Christmas songs that dared mention Christmas in their lyrics. Such songs as “It came upon a midnight clear,” “Silent Night Holy Night,”  “I heard the Bells on Christmas Day,”  “Away in a Manger,”  “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,”  “O Little Town of Bethlehem,”  “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “Joy To The World,”  “O’ Holy Night,” and a host of other similar spiritual songs.  Remember those?  We used to hear those songs every year at the mall, or in stores while shopping and on every radio station that played music.  And in many small towns, they emanated from speakers in the town square or from those that hung outside on store fronts. These songs reminded us for whom we were celebrating Christmas.

 One day during this season a few years ago, I visited the mall.  I didn’t have any shopping to do; I had mine virtually finished.  I don’t do much Christmas shopping these days.  My immediate family is not in much need of material things, so I have anonymously shifted the bulk of my Christmas giving to a well-known charitable organization.  Makes Christmas much less stressful for me, and more satisfying.  My reason for going to the mall that day was to see if that old spirit of hearing real Christmas music still prevailed, or if it had been replaced by the politically correct “happy holidays” phenomenon.  I found the latter to be the case.

 I heard none of the aforementioned holy tunes being played over the intercom; not even the less than holy, but somewhat traditional Christmas song, Silver Bells recorded by Bing Crosby; the lyrics—some of which—are: “Silver Bells, Silver Bells, it’s Christmas time in the City.  Ring a ling, hear them ring, soon it will be Christmas Day.  City sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style, in the air there’s a feeling of Christmas.  Children laughing, people passing, greeting smile after smile, and on every street corner you hear, Silver Bells, Silver Bells, it’s Christmas time in the city….Strings of street lights, even stop lights, blink a bright red and green as the shoppers rush home with their treasures….Soon it will be Christmas Day.”  To me, those lyrics reflect a feeling of good will toward men that people of that era felt; the real spirit behind so-called “Christmas shopping”, not the frenzy of Black Friday we witnessed last week.

 Metaphorically speaking, the “Christmas Bells” don’t’ seem to be ringing anymore like they used to, and I kinda miss that. Lest you misunderstand me, I enjoy the lighter secular Christmas tunes like White Christmas, Here Comes Santa Clause, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer,  Jingle Bells, and many others as much as the next guy, but performed in the old traditional style—not rock style— and, mixed in with the holy songs.

 I found the mall to be nicely decorated with festive decorations, and yes, there was music, but all I heard was secular “holiday” “rock style” music; and no reference to Christ.  I remember when the radio and TV lineup featured Christmas programs during December; the program format always centering on the birth of “The Christ Child.”  We looked forward every year to listening to, or watching these shows.  These days, watching TV in December is not much different from that in January or July.  The “reason for the season” doesn’t seem to be as prevalent today as in past years, and I am saddened to think that we may have allowed ourselves to become fearful of publicly acknowledging the miracle of Christ’s birth because it might offend someone or bring on a lawsuit.

 I remember when the focus of radio and TV commercials was on the spirit of giving—not on spending.  Today, the focus seems to center on how much we should spend on ourselves for the things we think we want, but really don’t need, and probably can’t afford.  The Christmas spirit is being replaced with a me-me syndrome.  One commercial even stated: “Come on, you know you deserve it…you know you really want it.” How ludicrous is that?

 There’s and old saying:  “You can’t go back,” but boy, how I long to go back to the days when we celebrated the true meaning of Christmas; when we demonstrated, pulicly, our belief of who the “reason for the season” really is.

From what I’ve been able to learn,  President George Washington dedicated this country to God in his first inaugural speech at Federal Hall in New York, City on April 30th, 1789;  and again, on that same day at St. Paul’s Chapel, which stands to this day on the very ground where 911 occurred.  Sadly, I believe we have turned from a nation that once collectively worshiped and thanked God for His blessings on this new promised land, to a nation that is turning to collectively worshiping  government for blessings it promises, but  cannot provide.

 If you’re one who enjoys remembering how things used to be, there’s a book that might bring back some old memories.  It’s entitled Buddy…His Trials and Treasures. You can receive a free sample of the prologue and first three completed adventures by clicking on the “free download” button in the upper right on this website homepage.

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Copyright 2013 Will Edwinson