When some of us here at Treehugger started thinking about a "Christmas of the Future" post, I took a second to think what that might mean for my son. Born this year and expected to live some 70+ years, it sounded interesting enough to peer into the future and see what my little Bobby might come to experience as the average "Christmas" some 50 years out.
Of course my glimpse into the future was probably part wish and part reality, but I'd ask you to give it a look and maybe add a few of your own observations below the post.
As part of my glimpse into the future I suspected that the dominant themes would be energy and consumption, just like today. But probably not in the same ways, and hopefully changed for the better.
For example, the switch to LEDs on the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree this year marked a landmark switch for the city of NY and a great learning opportunity for the millions of people who come to see it every year. Maybe Christmas 2057 will find LEDs across America and the globe, lighting up Christmas in ways never before thought imaginable.
Of course, the rising costs of energy due to the depletion of fossil fuels may well have something to say about the level of lighting put up by all of us each holiday season as well. And maybe that will mean the guy in my hometown of North Babylon with the gaudiest set of lights and attractions on Earth will have to tone things down a bit instead of buying every single light bulb imaginable and then asking the power company to foot the bill. (Which they do, according to my last recollection.)
Maybe less will become more; meaning that people will start shopping in ways that reflect the fact that it's a gift-giving season, and not an overwhelming, budget wrecking bonanza of useless material. Of course, that would mean Americans and people everywhere will have to come to value things more highly like time with their family, fun and interesting activities with friends, and the fact that sometimes one meaningful gift is worth a whole lot more than everything at the "Dollar Tree" combined.
And economics will have something to do with that too As warming temperatures lead to increased social and political instability across the globe I'd suspect the price of items produced in China, India and the like will increase along with the unpredictability of weather patterns, increased oil prices, and depletion of various resources. Driving down wasteful consumption in the process.
Somewhat ironically, it just may be that the Christmas of the Future will be as much influenced by economics and resource management as the depletion of space in our closets.
Taking the pulse of a variety of my colleagues at the school where I teach was revealing. If one trend could be found, it was that there are simply too many gifts. Even on an unlimited budget, there's simply no place to put them once received. And as my good buddy Rich Willis pointed out, there seems to be an inverse relationship between the number of gifts a child receives and the time they spend playing with any of them. Even in aggregate.
So where does the wish come in? Well, if anyone was asked to describe what the perfect Christmas was, wouldn't they feature a relaxing time with friends and family at the top of the list? Name one person you know who isn't exasperated with the pace of Christmas in 2007, and wishes it wasn't a whole lot slower The issue, I suspect, is that the endless competition between people over anything, holidays included, drives the whole of the event inexorably away from the prospect of sanity. And it's certainly helped along by the endless marketing from big businesses, and the people in positions of influence who advise the public that the best thing they can do for America is to just go out and shop some more.
Unfortunately in many ways, though fortunately in others, it seems to me that the pace of Christmas just isn't sustainable. It will have to get a whole lot slower, though probably a whole lot more meaningful in the process. The unfortunate part is that it's probably going to be dictated to us by economics and weather patterns rather than the common sense we feel in our bones but often fail to act upon.
Make no mistake about it, I really love Christmas. But the problem, in many ways, is that the realities my son Bobby and the rest of us face means the way it's currently practiced will simply have to change.
But Christmas itself will change for the better, I truly believe