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  1. #1
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    OT: How has Christmas changed?

    This article on Holiday traditions fading into obscurity got me thinking. It seems as though my mental definition of a Christmas tree is obsolete. It's been a while since I had one, but to me, a Christmas tree is shiny glass ornaments, tinsel and multi colored twinkle lights on a Douglas fir. We had some of the lead-based tinsel, but the plastic tinsel was preferred. As a kid I would stare at them for hours, mesmerized by the shifting colors that bounced off the ornaments and the tinsel. Such a great light show for a future hippie.

    Tinsel - gone. Twinkle lights - gone. How has Christmas changed since you were a kid?
    Last edited by Artkansas; 12-04-11 at 12:47 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
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    It has changed, but I'll refrain from listing how it's changed.

    Happy Holidays.

  3. #3
    Senior Member ro-monster's Avatar
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    The biggest change has been that I stopped celebrating Christmas several years ago. I'd always felt rather hypocritical as a non-Christian celebrating a Christian holiday anyway. (Never mind the fact that most of the things we think of as Christmas traditions are pagan in origin.) These days I have a nice meal and take a few moments to honor the passage of the winter solstice, and that's about it. No gifts, no holiday parties, no pressure to spend more money than one can afford. I enjoy the season so much more now!

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    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    I guess it has changed a lot for me, especially in the spirit of Christmas. When I was a child, my father was the only one working and didn't really make that much money. You could say we really didn't have a pot to piss in. However, we always had a tree and there was at least one present under it for my brother and I. Even if it was something that cost a dollar, we were delighted to get it and we played with until it was worn out. Two weeks ago, I went to Toys R' Us to get this $59.00 dinosaur looking thing for the youngest grandson that will probably end up broken within the first week and that was just one thing that he was getting. The two older boys are getting laptop computers from their parents.

    Today, it is nothing but a commercialized holiday and somewhere along the line, most people seem to have forgotten the real meaning behind it. It used to be, "Wow, thank you for giving me this bag of soldiers, dad!" Today, it's more like, "What! Is this computer and cell phone all I'm getting?" Somewhere along the commercialization of Christmas, it has just become another day for me.
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    Senior Member DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Santa used to be a LOT older.

  6. #6
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    Santa used to be a LOT older.
    You don't have to worry till he becomes a whippersnapper.

    Get off my roof you kid! And all your reindeer too!
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Gee, I thought I was the only one. The older that Mrs. Grouch and I get, the more we simplify Christmas.

    Probably a decade ago I started a tradition in our family of only exchanging home made gifts among the adults. Everybody gets home made frozen Dad-the-Bad chili from me. We still give gifts to the grand kids and great grand kids. The people with kids exchange kid names rather than buy something for all 19. Last year we had family from Seattle visiting so we put up a small tree but only used photos of family members for ornaments. Santa thoughtfully delivered their gifts to our house too. This year, with no little kids, we're displaying my mother-in-law's breakable crib set insted of a tree. We have a few exterior lights on timers, but no one is going to mistake our condo for a used car lot.

    Our children all have another family which they'll celebrate with on Christmas itself. I'm sure we'd be welcome with any of them but we'll probably just have dinner with some childless adult friends. Our clan will assemble the week end afterward. We'll share a meal and enjoy each other's company.

    I'm good with all of that. Frankly, it makes Christmas seem more special to me.

  8. #8
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Christmas is still celebrated in this house and with Grand children it has taken a new lease of life. Only a few things have changed such as a Fake tree instead of a real one. Less decorations around the house but the Lounge is still done.

    Both my daughters live within a mile of our house so although they do alternate with their outlaws for dinner- we all get together for Supper. This year I have both of them for dinner so I will be up nice and early to cook the Turkey and gammon- and get the christmas pud steaming for another 4 hours. (Home made by the wife in June and fed Brandy once a week by me) To save on me getting 20 pairs of socks- that I will use or 5 ties that I never will- we have secret Santa for the adults. 10 limit and the draw was made a month ago.

    My only worry is that I no longer have a good stock of wine so have had to hunt down the bottles for Dinner. I don't want to put a poor quality wine on the table so many a drawn out night has been spent deciding if That particular bottle of Bordeaux is good enough- or shall I try a different bottle.
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    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ro-monster View Post
    The biggest change has been that I stopped celebrating Christmas several years ago. I'd always felt rather hypocritical as a non-Christian celebrating a Christian holiday anyway. (Never mind the fact that most of the things we think of as Christmas traditions are pagan in origin.) These days I have a nice meal and take a few moments to honor the passage of the winter solstice, and that's about it. No gifts, no holiday parties, no pressure to spend more money than one can afford. I enjoy the season so much more now!
    Being raised Unitarian, I never had such a problem. As you observe, Christmas Trees, Reindeer and Santa aren't Christian observances. So unless you are going to church and doing the Christ's birth and wiseman type thing, I don't think there is a problem there.

    My big holiday currently is Buddha's Enlightenment Day (Dec 8), followed by Winter Solstice. I have no problem with gift giving, but it really has to have meaning, not just giving gifts because it is the season.

    I coordinate the entry of our local bicycle advocacy group in the local holiday parade. One cool thing I did this year, was to invite some kids who got bicycles this year from the local Recycle Bikes for Kids program to come ride with us in the parade. It was fun, and I hope that the kids watching them along the parade route were jealous and fired up with the desire to ride their own bikes.
    Last edited by Artkansas; 12-04-11 at 08:25 PM.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
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  10. #10
    Behind EVERYone!!! baj32161's Avatar
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    You mena it is still called Christmas? I thought it was mandated that it be called "Winter Holiday" since there is no longer any such thing as a Christmas Tree. Actually, Christmas changed for me when I was in my 20s and working in retail seeing the worst side of people in the stores.....kids running amok, parents fighting over the hottest toy, stampedes at the door. I had enough and got out when I was 27. What that didn't kill, political correctness did. I am going to love going to church Christmas morning and spending the day at home with my girlfriend, her sons and her brother when he comes for dinner. If anyone asked me what I wanted I just asked for a small donation pf the giver's choice to the charity ride I am doing next summer....I don't care how much. I need some new ricing gear but I can get that myself.

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  11. #11
    Senior Member trackhub's Avatar
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    Heh, interesting article. Having grown up in the 60s, I do remember when Christmas just seemed a lot... nicer, for lack of a better word. I have heard that the modern image of santa claus is actually a creation of the coca cola company.

    I always wanted one of those aluminum christmas trees, complete with the blue balls on it, but mom always said NO! Around here, they were sold in stores like Zayers, and Bradlees, which were the Walmarts of that time.

    I do not recall my parents ever standing in line in the middle of the night to buy any toy. To suggest such a thing was unheard of, as was getting into fistfights over parking spaces. How did that come about?

    I remember every toy having the words "Made in U.S.A." stamped on them somewhere.

    Best toy from my youth: Mattell Switch-N-Go. Good sized (for small hands) race cars and trucks, which ran about on track that was plastic tubing. Anyone else have this?
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Mobile 155's Avatar
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    From a family standpoint the Christian Christmas was always celebrated much like we celebrate a Christian Easter. The commercial side of Christmas has simply gotten more commercial. The only other thing I have noticed is that some have tried to make Christmas a political issue by banning Christmas decorations from city centers and some companies deciding to refuse to call things a Christmas sale but rather a Holiday sale. I think Starbucks has decided to sell a special packaged coffee on holiday wrapping rather than Christmas wrapping. When I was a kid we had Christmas vacation now they call it winter break. And some schools have banned the giving of Christmas presents in class. When I was a kid we had Christmas parties in class.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member missjean's Avatar
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    My goodness, too much Bah Humbug! Where is that newspaper article for the late 1800’s where the author is complaining how commercial Christmas has become?

    I worked retail for 14 years, with the-putting-up-X-mas decorations-in-Oct, the endless X-mas carols, and the nasty people and I said that is not my Christmas.
    Christmas is what you make it, and at my house I make it fun, low key, warm, traditional, with a real tree, cookies (even tho I have to make them w/Smart Balance because of the husband's heart issues) and a one Secret Santa gift mandate for the extended family. My sister can be a PITA around the holidays, but I try not to let her get to me. My folks are getting old, and my Mom said this maybe the last Christmas at their house. That makes me sad, but I have already started thinking about what I would do if Christmas ends up at my house.

    Now, back to the OP question.
    Tinsel – when I was little we had the real stuff! Us kids would roll it up into little balls and flick that at each other. After Christmas, my mother would take each strand off the tree and fold it back over the piece cardboard and save it for next year. After a few years, we had very wrinkly tinsel.
    A few years back, in one of the Vermont Country Store catalogs, I saw real tinsel for sale. I ordered a couple of little boxes, and now have the real stuff. And, guess what? I take it off the tree and fold it over the cardboard!
    One other memory – I remember going to my grandparents house in Germany when I was very little and they had real, lit, candles on their tree.
    Merry Christmas to all!
    "I bet German has a word for it. German has a word for everything."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
    Tinsel - gone. Twinkle lights - gone. How has Christmas changed since you were a kid?
    I remember when the lead tinsel was replaced with aluminized plastic. The old stuff hung down from the branches much better and was clearly superior as long as you didn't ingest any. Had the twinkle lights on my parent's tree, but my grandmother only used real candles clipped to the tree branches on hers - and the ornaments were almost entirely edible (except the tinsel).

  15. #15
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    I think Christmas is a pretty accommodating holiday, given its pagan roots and all.

    Pagans of course may put up the tree in good conscience.

    The best looking tree we ever had is when a bunch of Israelis came over and had the tree decorated in under an hour. Pure tornadic activity, and very artistic.

    My son-in-law minister will not teach his children about Santa.

    My other devout son-in-law will take his kids for pictures with Santa next week.

    My son, minister in training, is happy to tell us we're kind of pagan, which rings true to someone who routinely performs animal sacrifices to obscure Mayan deities.

    To be honest, I get tired of putting up Christmas decorations, but my youngest daughter would go nuts on me if I didn't.

    I used to block off an evening and listen to ancient Christmas masses in Gregorian chant. That can be quite a moving experience.

    Anyway, I think it's all good.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by baj32161 View Post
    You mena it is still called Christmas? I thought it was mandated that it be called "Winter Holiday" since there is no longer any such thing as a Christmas Tree
    Brian,

    I also wonder why people are afraid to call it Christmas any more. We say Happy "Thanksgiving" and "Have a good 4th" as well as "Happy New Year." I know some don't celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday but it's still called Christmas.

    Anyway "Merry Christmas" in advance
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  17. #17
    Senior Member jdon's Avatar
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    No changes. Well, not really. The season has always been the best time of year for me. I love the music, the endulging, the gift giving, the family time, visits from friends. What isn't to like? While I still have some lead tinsel, most has been replaced with the twisted tin stuff from Lee Valley. The kids still love it as do my wife and I. It is an oasis in a dreary world. We go downtown a lot and enjoy the social aspect and the street decorations. My parents and siblings are still in Vancouver so we won't see them but my girls are with us and we enjoy pretty much everything about the season.

  18. #18
    Senior Member miss kenton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by missjean View Post
    My goodness, too much Bah Humbug! Where is that newspaper article for the late 1800s where the author is complaining how commercial Christmas has become?

    I worked retail for 14 years, with the-putting-up-X-mas decorations-in-Oct, the endless X-mas carols, and the nasty people and I said that is not my Christmas.
    Christmas is what you make it, and at my house I make it fun, low key, warm, traditional, with a real tree, cookies (even tho I have to make them w/Smart Balance because of the husband's heart issues) and a one Secret Santa gift mandate for the extended family. My sister can be a PITA around the holidays, but I try not to let her get to me. My folks are getting old, and my Mom said this maybe the last Christmas at their house. That makes me sad, but I have already started thinking about what I would do if Christmas ends up at my house.

    !
    Miiss Jean!! You took my exact words from my fingertips!!!
    Of course Christmas changes--we change. I used to play Santa to three little kids and love it. Now I have three young adults who, by their volition, rush to be at home here at Christmas and bring their friends and s.o.s with them and I love it.

    I have never stood in line for a specific toy or shopped on Black Friday. My kids won't ever say they suffered as a result of my decision not let our Christmases be commercialized. All my kids will tell you their favorite day is Christmas EVE. The reason? We all attend Christmas mass together then come home where I host a Christmas open house for all family and friends. Few things make me happier than to see people come back year after year. Everyone one is welcome to share homemade food, Christmas music, games, and the Holiday spirit.

    Religion doesn't matter here--I have Muslims, agnostics, and just about every other type of denomination visit every year. Christmas is about love and sharing. Everyone can enjoy that.

    I stay up all hours for weeks prior to Christmas getting ready for it. It's not about feeling obligated; I do the baking, the cooking, the decorating, the shopping and wrapping because I love my family and friends and want them to have memories of happy times together.

    I look forward to the day when my kids host me at their Christmas parties because I know they will know how to do it properly--with love!

    Enjoy the Holidays--we never know how many we'll have! Christmas ROCKS!

  19. #19
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
    From a family standpoint the Christian Christmas was always celebrated much like we celebrate a Christian Easter. The commercial side of Christmas has simply gotten more commercial. The only other thing I have noticed is that some have tried to make Christmas a political issue by banning Christmas decorations from city centers and some companies deciding to refuse to call things a Christmas sale but rather a Holiday sale. I think Starbucks has decided to sell a special packaged coffee on holiday wrapping rather than Christmas wrapping. When I was a kid we had Christmas vacation now they call it winter break. And some schools have banned the giving of Christmas presents in class. When I was a kid we had Christmas parties in class.
    When I was a kid our town had a law that African Americans had to be off the streets and out of town by sundown. Just because we did it that way doesn't make it acceptable today, or right. The way I see it Christmas being a religious observance should be left out of government programs and places. The holiday tree idea is great, it doesn't leave any groups of citizens out, or give the appearance of state endorsement of a particular religion. If I don't know a person's religion I will wish them a happy Holiday, if I know they celebrate Christmas I will wish them a Merry Christmas. I'm far from offended by the word Christmas...but I'd also want to respect someone who celebrates a different holiday at the end of December. I am offended at a well funded effort to ram Christmas down the throats of the whole country.
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    Between what Shifty said and the lovely post by miss kenton, there's just not much else to be added. Happy whatever-you-celebrate (or don't) everyone. We may have more past years than future ones, but that doesn't mean our best days aren't before us.

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    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    When I was a kid we went to Church every Sunday except Easter, and never attended the Christmas eve service. For Easter we colored eggs and has a massive Easter-egg hunt. On Christmas Eve we made ornaments to be put on the tree. I recall the ornaments were some mixture of flour, water, and salt that we shaped into various things, baked, and painted.

    Years later I found the reason we didn't go to Church those days. It seems one of the twice-a-year Christians made a disparaging comment about how my mom dressed her kids on such a special occasion. Being a somewhat stubborn woman, and perhaps a bit passive-aggressive, my mom responded by becoming a 363-day a year Christian. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of those Easter and Christmas eve family events.

    Now I go to Easter service and to Christmas Eve service. I wear jeans and nobody says anything. Things have changed I guess.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
    This article on Holiday traditions fading into obscurity got me thinking. It seems as though my mental definition of a Christmas tree is obsolete. It's been a while since I had one, but to me, a Christmas tree is shiny glass ornaments, tinsel and multi colored twinkle lights on a Douglas fir. We had some of the lead-based tinsel, but the plastic tinsel was preferred. As a kid I would stare at them for hours, mesmerized by the shifting colors that bounced off the ornaments and the tinsel. Such a great light show for a future hippie.

    Tinsel - gone. Twinkle lights - gone. How has Christmas changed since you were a kid?
    It hasn't, really, the important part has not changed, and that is going to Christmas worship services. It's supposed to be one of the high holy days on the Christian calendar, even though the date is most likely wrong, and the Roman Catholic Church allowed many of the pagan traditions around the winter solstice to continue as Christmas ones, in order to turn pagan Europe into Roman Catholic Europe. If those pagan traditions now disappear, then maybe the church (in general, not just the RC Church) can take back Christmas and return it to a day of worship instead of a day to put your credit card into melt down.

  23. #23
    USMC Veteran qcpmsame's Avatar
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    It is still Christmas at our home. We have a Douglas Fir that we cut at a small family farm. Every year the Friday after Thanksgiving is Christmas tree day. No exterior lights at all, just family decorations in the house and Christmas music CD's and television specials. We do the Advent wreath at church every Sunday in Advent. Devotionals are personal and done daily.

    Gifts are immediate family only and the cost is voluntarily kept low. We try to give our daughter and son gifts that are things they need for the coming year that they help choose.

    My mom and dad never did much of anything other than an artificial tree. Not even a special Christmas day meal. I promised myself that Christmas would be celebrated in a more traditional way for my family and treasure the memories that we have made over the years.

    Merry Christmas to all,
    Bill
    "I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me" Philippians 4:13

  24. #24
    I STILL miss East Hill :) Rollfast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ro-monster View Post
    The biggest change has been that I stopped celebrating Christmas several years ago. I'd always felt rather hypocritical as a non-Christian celebrating a Christian holiday anyway. (Never mind the fact that most of the things we think of as Christmas traditions are pagan in origin.) These days I have a nice meal and take a few moments to honor the passage of the winter solstice, and that's about it. No gifts, no holiday parties, no pressure to spend more money than one can afford. I enjoy the season so much more now!
    I suppose, and since my Jewish friends don't get to Hanukkah this year until AFTER Christmas the extended party idea is kind of out the window too.

    My tree is a 1937 Sears Silvertone, AM-Police Band-Foreign Band (530-about 19 megacycles/Megahertz). Big eye tube, two neon lamps and a big rond gold dial.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    What Miss Jean said... Christmas is what you make it.

    Being Quaker, the belief that no single day is any less than others that we've been given, means that any proclaimed holiday is secular in nature. Or, another way of looking at it is that every day is sacred. Hence, I have no problem with shifts in language to things such as "winter break", "holiday gift wrap", etc. From my perspective those of us in the northern hemisphere need some kind of holiday celebration to break up the dreariness of winter. I don't confuse "Christmas" with my religious beliefs.

    With the that said, just this week I composed a letter to my parents thanking them for the many Christmas/holiday memories they gave me. The smell of a fresh navel orange in my Christmas stocking; going out along the mountain side to gather large icicles so we could make hand cranked ice cream; waxing the runners of our sleds; having my aunts and uncles over and spying on the grown-up conversations way past my bed time; the smell of a fresh cut pine tree; watching with anticipation for the moment my father would plug in the lights on the Christmas tree; waking on Christmas morning to the smell of homemade Christmas pudding, getting my first real bicycle, these were just a few of the memories they provided. For me holidays, regardless of when or what, are a time to take a step back from the daily routine and appreciate that which is around you. This hasn't changed over time. There is little marketing/sales and other distractions can do to change that. Christmas is indeed what you make it.
    Last edited by NOS88; 12-05-11 at 08:32 AM.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright
    Favorite rides in the stable: Indy Fab CJ Ti - Colnago MXL - S-Works Roubaix - Habanero Team Issue - Jamis Eclipse carbon/831

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