On Wednesday downtown Minneapolis got the holiday treatment with lights, garlands, and wreaths. I stood across the street from Macy's, formerly Marshall Fields, formerly Dayton's, and thought about traditions that survive an iffy economy. In years past the Dayton-Hudson building display windows captured Christmas fantasies and decadence. Regardless of the temp and weather, a trip to the annual 8th floor auditorium for the holiday exhibit was not complete until a lengthy viewing of those outdoor windows. We stood in wonder peering up at the Santa Bears and Christmas scenes, munching our gingerbread man cookies purchased at Santaland and still warm from the oven. This year many of the display windows are covered in poster advertisements and the 8th floor will be repeating last year's A Day in the Life of an Elf (Macy's website declares, "Back by popular demand!"). The gingerbread cookies are shipped in from some generic bakery and on the (sort of) edible side of stale. Times and cookies are tough all over.
...but I will still get a little flighty as I take those escalators up, up, and up. I will pause at each vista and read the corresponding paragraph. I will buy a gingerbread man cookie and eat it leg by leg by arm, saving the head for last. And I'll delight in watching the kids dressed in their Sunday best pour out of Santaland; eyes bright with anticipation.