From Norman Rockwell to South Park – How the Holidays Grew Up
The Christmas holiday season brings with it an amazing combination of tradition, spirituality and consumerism. No other holiday season is embraced by such a diverse cross section of the public and, as a result, controversy surrounding the holiday is bound to make local headlines during the season. Often, the grumbling has to do with how ‘adult’ Christmas has become. Traditionally, Christmas and the entire holiday season has been treated with a kind of childlike wonder. Card companies and retailers would play up the images of the ‘Good Old Days’ and most decorations and themes revolved around a Normal Rockwell kind of Americana. Families gathered around a golden brown turkey, children cuddled on a couch playing with toys, dogs lounging by a fire. But, as society has evolved so, too, has the way we think about these holidays. These views typically poked fun at the traditional scene and instead focused on themes of families fighting over the last drumstick, children wailing because their batteries have worn out already and dogs rifling through the holiday kitchen garbage in the middle of the night.
The Vision vs. The Reality
The truth is that this ability to embrace the holiday season with a ‘warts and all’ attitude can go a long way in making people feel better about their own crazy families. When cards, decorations and the like all focused on the idealized family holiday, it drove some revelers straight over the edge. But the 90s brought with it a relaxation of these ideals, a point driven home every year on the national scale with the popularity of family shows like Married with Children and Roseanne, which featured episodes focused on the family drama and stress associated with the entire holiday season.
The Cards You Might Not Send to Grandma
This relaxed and more open attitude can be seen in a variety of holiday decorations and shows but, by and large, the easiest way to see it is by checking out modern Christmas and Holiday cards. Initially, the market branched out simply to include other religious, spiritual or cultural holidays and, since then, has branched out even further. From Kwanzaa to Festivus, every conceivable holiday is now covered by a selection of greeting cards. On the other end of the spectrum, there are cards featuring rude and crude cartoons, scientific explanations to disprove Santa and, of course, a host of cards which celebrate the FUN in dysfunction.
This progression towards the inclusion of adult themed and more tongue in cheek holiday greetings work not to divide the holidays, but to actually bring them closer together. The winter holiday season appeals to a wide variety of people across social, religious and economic backgrounds. As a result, the things we all use to celebrate the holidays—from home decorations to greeting cards—have expanded to reflect everyone who celebrates the season in their own way. The wide array of new holiday cards also gives people the chance to really customize their own celebration of the holidays. After all, you might not send the South Park Mr. Hanky the Christmas Poo card or the Festivus card to your Grandma, but it’ll do nicely for the best friend who sends out a card declaring ‘The Grinch Had it Right the First Time’.