Advent, for the churchy.
- Like Sailer has his ‘Diversity Before Diversity’ series of posts to show how fair-minded Anglo-American society in the golden era was, before tyranny being marketed as charity started, last week I thought of the four TV staples of an American child’s Christmas: ‘Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer’, ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’, ‘Frosty the Snowman’ and ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’. All from the ’60s. ‘Rudolph’ for example is from 1964. (Rudolph’s original story is a 1939 ad campaign for Montgomery Ward; the song’s from 1949.) Only one, and over the network’s objection, even mentions what Christmas really means: ‘Charlie Brown’, based on a comic strip then intellectual/hip/for grownups. The rest is winterfest fluff with implicit Christian morals. (Great: good art usually doesn’t have to preach upfront. Like folklore, which these modern stories now arguably are.) Now the really reactionary might cry that the rot had set in (war on Christmas) but like Sailer I take it this way: polite society subtly worked to include Jews and nonbelievers. (Dustin Hoffman talks about growing up not practicing Judaism but celebrating secular Christmas.) The market: it’s just good business not to turn away some customers. So then you had ‘Happy Holidays’ and even ‘Season’s Greetings’ alongside ‘Merry Christmas’.
- At the same time of course mainstream society wasn’t anti-religious: there was the wonderful ‘Spirit of Christmas’ for TV that Bell Telephone made, complete with Mid-Atlantic-accented narrator, which, like the biblical blockbuster movies then, told exactly the Christian story of the holiday, something Catholics and Protestants shared. And of course nobody was offended.
- Regular readers know my line: a reason I love Christmas is once a year the Protestants come home to us culturally, lighting candles, putting up statues of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and singing in Latin. A backhanded testimony to Jesus being real. Interestingly this doesn’t happen at Easter: no gifts, parties or drinking.
- Photos: a front yard in East Lansdowne and a party in Philadelphia.