Saturday April 19, 2014

Season changes lamented

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The older I grow, the more the holiday season seems but a pale rendition, or what was once a time of complete wonderment and awe for a boy growing up on the farm.

It was a different time of course.

The 1960’s seem to have about as much in common with 2013, as do the 1890s or 1940s.

Things have changed so dramatically in the past 50 years, it is hard to even explain to someone born in the last 20 years just how different things were.

The computer chip was at best a vague idea in some scientist’s mind.

Things such as laptops and cellphones were things scoffed at in a science fiction series such as Star Trek, but nothing more.

Our access to information was a library.

The way we corresponded with someone half a world away was to write a letter with pen and paper, place it in an envelope, add a stamp and send it on a journey which might see a reply arriving several weeks later.

Today an email is a key stroke and a micro second from anywhere.

And in the flood of advancements through the years, the wonderment of the season seems somehow washed away in the torrent.

There was a true sense of wonderment for a young boy when the Sears Christmas catalogue arrived. There were pages and pages of toys never even imagined because there were not a thousand ads on a thousand television channels telling you what toys to buy starting in October.

I would go through those pages daily, maybe more often, desiring one thing today, and another the next.

The pages would become dogged-eared and torn and yet they held their magic.

It became excruciating deciding what to actually print in a letter to Santa.

And then there was the mere turning of a calender to December. It was as if the mere effort of turning a calender page opened a door to a different world.

In my earliest memories it was my Dad and grandfather who would head to the river on our so-called north quarter. I was too little to go, but I understood what it meant loading the axes in the half ton.

I would watch through the picture window for them to turn in to the road to the yard, and then grab my coat to bolt outside for a first glimpse at our Christmas tree.

In later years I went along, later still I swung the axe, and then the world changed. Trees needed to be up in November and something fake and plastic replaced the glory of a real tree.

Of course I can remember the sweet taste of the first Mandarin orange of December too, back before they became a near year-round fruit, another moment of wonderment lost to a changing world.

Brazil nuts became available anytime, and the joy of Dad cracking one for a young boy as a joy of the holidays went poof.

The simplicity and joys of the past giving way to whatever joy we can glean from a cellphone screen, or a department store line up.

Some days I wish I had access to Dr. Who’s Tardis so I could go back just once to chop a tree on the farm and look through a Sears Wishbook, and remember the magic of a country Christmas that is now more memory than reality.

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