Friday, December 22, 2006
Fin de siècle on 37th Street
Here, pinned like a wriggling specimen to this morning’s Austin Chronicle, lies an excellent if uncomfortable bit of reporting about the cynically artificial darkness shadowing our public and private American celebrations this Christmas.
Oh sure, there are still a few semi-traditional stalwarts (as I like to think of my bread and cookie-baking self) and your occasional mold-breaker type like 37th Street’s hysterical Cheney/Poe crèche creator, but we tend to be unappreciated in our own lifetimes…
Our communities, our extended families have vanished into the mists of my 1950-generation’s childhood.
We have become too busy, self-centered or perhaps too enamored by unattainable holiday marketing excesses to notice the absence of actual people at festive traditional gatherings.
Gone but hopefully not forgotten and, please, renewable.
I was born into a large extended family with traditions of absolutely enormous holiday celebrations…ancient decorations, hand-me-down recipes and the palpable sense of community renewed.
Plans were laid as summer ended with harvests, as game was hunted and as fruits and vegetables were preserved.
There was, once, a time and a season.
But we, as the Austin Chronicle so poignantly stated, “have all gradually moved away.”
The challenge and ultimate success of our vast and maturing technology will be its adaptation to humanity's more traditional demands rather than our recent historical adaptation to the heartless brutality of the machine's infantile needs.
Photo: Austin Chronicle