In what is probably the single best piece of writing I’ve seen during my time running SundayMagazine.org, this article describes the fewer toys, barren shop windows, and a new somewhat lonelier holiday celebration for Americans in the throes of World War I.
It is a changed Santa Claus that will visit New York on this, the first Christmas that has found America buckled down to the grim task of playing a part in the great world conflict — a war-rationed Santy who is trying to do his bit.
The old twinkling eyes, rosy cheeks, cheery smile, and jolly paunch — symbols of merriment and hospitality, of kindliness and generosity — have lost some of their pristine glory. When hard-fisted necessity in the guise of the Higher Cost-of-Living, has been busy depleting the pocketbook for these many months past, when Charity is making her appeals for the starving and homeless in many quarters of the globe, when Patriotism is crying for funds with which to fight the enemy, the gift-pack must perforce shrink, the stuffed turkey be forsworn, the punch-bowl stay dry.
But if the old spirit of Merry Christmas has been tempered, if it has been shorn of some of its jollity, some of its splendidly careless generosity, because there is no longer “peace on earth,” there has come a community kindliness, a sobered realization of the ties that bind us to those outside our circle of kinship and friendship, a bestowal of hospitality and generosity upon the stranger and the poor such as we have never before seen. And so, after all, those gaudy colored angels perched upon their Christmas-card cloud can still trumpet forth with all their old fervor “good-will toward men.”
Be thankful for all that’s going right in the year 2017, whether in your own personal life or in the world at large. Happy holidays… and to all a good night.
Mars and Santa Claus Meet Here: First Christmas of the War Finds America No Longer the Lavish Spender of Other Years — Signs of Great Changes Seen on All Sides
From Sunday, December 23, 1917