Taking the Christmas out of Christmas

“It’s a holiday celebration as opposed to a Christmas celebration,” comments Irene Chaplin, one of the many who came downtown specifically to experience the department store windows as she does every holiday season.

But this year, and in recent years, it seems the stereotypical look of Christmas she grew up with has been replaced with something new. It’s kind of a manufacturing look with state-of-the-art technology combined. It’s large on meeting today’s online world and short on yuletide logs and eating Christmas cake while sipping eggnog by the fire.

“I was brought up celebrating Christmas,” said Irene. “I remember this being more magical when I was younger. They are all to sophisticated, computerized. I liked the older ones better with Santa, the hills, the snow scenes.”

Now, she said, what we get are “politically correct holiday celebrations.”

Even on the window, instead of Merry Christmas, it says #hbholiday.

The holiday window displays at the flagship Hudson’s Bay store at Queen and Yonge Sts. in Toronto on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (Stan Behal/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network)

That said, the windows are still a popular attraction and not everybody is complaining as my colleague, photographer Stan Behal, and I found out.

While she admits “I kind of miss” Santa and Rudolph “a little bit,” Anne Refling is okay with the 2019 approach.

“It’s different but it’s still Christmasy,” said Refling of Guelph. “I like it.”

Certainly the groups of school kids who strolled by with their class were loving it. The pure excitement could be heard in their joyful cheers.

Toronto onlookers stop to admire the holiday window displays at the flagship Hudson’s Bay store at Queen and Yonge Sts. on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (Stan Behal/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network)

And tourists from around the world were taking pictures and posting them online.

“It’s still colourful (and) a more modern take,” said Carolyn Lesyshen, of Edmonton. “It doesn’t bother me because it’s still Christmas.”

Hudson’s Bay did not return calls for comment but it should be noted that inside the popular store there is a Christmas market that features the incredible sounds of the McGregor Carollers — creating a very warm Christmas feel.

I was thinking, if those singers could go outside to carol perhaps that would help bring back the Christmas vibe that the more sterile windows don’t offer?

Either way, those looking for a reminder of what Christmas is really about can gaze directly across the street where they will find the annual display of Jesus being born in Bethlehem in a manger with sheep and the Three Wise Men (Wise people) that has been traditionally on display outside Old City Hall for decades.