What happened?

In the past, the Christmas Holiday began after everyone stuffed down their last piece of pumpkin pie and threw out the last remaining pieces of turkey. Perhaps this was because the thought of another turkey sandwich makes us all a bit queasy but this year, the transition did not occur.

In the past there has always been an excitement to the Christmas season. The weekend after the Thanksgiving feast has people throughout our community decorating their homes and apartments. Usually with colored lights, foolish-looking blowups, and various other ways to show everyone they were part of the most important celebration of the year. I am saddened to report I did not see what I thought I would always see.

There is sporadic decorating but nothing like the Christmas Wonderland of holidays past. Driving through York there is still the multitudes of lights ringing in the season but the number of people enjoying the day they turned the lights on seemed to have diminished. In earlier times, in order to enjoy the lighting of the Nubble Light, one would have to arrive early in order to be in the perfect spot when Santa arrived. Not so much this year. I wonder what has happened?

The shopping malls used to promote terror deep in my soul during this time of year. It looks as though the population of shoppers has decreased substantially. I believe the amount of merchandise in the store and even the depth of decorations seems to have also diminished.

The time when I used to stand in line, attempting to buy the perfect gift, has decreased to the point that if there was no means of seeing the outside it could be mid-July. The problem is many, if not most, people have decided that the convenience of on-line shopping has overwhelmed the historic passion of being caught up in the chaos of Christmas shopping.

This situation does not only relate to our shopping stores and malls. The other day my wife and I made our yearly excursion to the many Christmas Craft Fairs that are located throughout New England. Our first stop was at a high school in Eliot, Maine. In past years the baked goods were remarkable and the multitudes of small craft booths were awe inspiriting. If you ever wanted to find the Christmas spirit, all you had to do was visit one of these fairs.

I am pained to say we were both disappointed this year. The number of booths obviously was reduced by maybe a third. The crafts were still remarkable but many were missing.

Remembering back on the times of Christmas past I do recall that many of these booths had their merchandise produced by elderly men and women. Possibly many of these people have passed on or decided to retire from producing the crafts that defined many of our Christmas seasons. I am dismayed because I saw that few young people had taken the place of the artists who have defined the Christmas Fairs of New England.

One thing I did notice driving home was that many of my neighbors had brown cardboard boxes sitting on their steps. Many had what I think is a picture of a smile on their sides and promises of gifts they ordered on-line by people they had no idea who they were. In my minds-eye I can see many people in front of their computer screens or cellular phones buying presents for their loved ones and happy not to be inconvenienced by the fact of having to associate with anyone alive. AI, or artificial intelligence has taken over our Christmas spirit.

Maybe these people decorate their computer screens with lights and tinsel. These same people may buy covers for their phones that have Santa or Holiday emblems emblazoned on them. In reality, I assume this is fiction because the purpose of on-line shopping is convenience so why waste time. This year’s lack of holiday spirit was exemplified by the lack of enthusiasm to the lighting of our national Christmas tree.

In the past I remember viewing masses of people excited about the beginning of this magical season. Things change and nothing stays the same but I am disheartened by the lack of Christmas spirit this year. It makes no sense to blame anyone or anything but it is obvious that the Internet has become our most modern Santa Claus!

The End.
How the Internet stole Christmas by Jim Fabiano.

Jim Fabiano is a retired teacher and writer living in York, Maine.
You can contact Jim at: james.fabiano60@gmail.com