Observing all of the preparations and hype about Cyber Monday, I can’t help but remember holidays celebrated during my childhood. This won’t be another of those anti-technology, let’s return to the good old days rants that surround us. Instead, I find it an opportunity to remember and cherish the best parts of holidays that were happy, festive and free of those anxieties that we acquire with age.

Snow was definitely part of the festivities. Of course, as a child, snow is something with which to build a fort or snow-person, not something to be overcome as a driver on dangerous roads. In Chicago, Christmases were always white and while we didn’t participate in many of the traditional Christmas gatherings, it was still a time of beauty and shared histories.

Going downtown was always a treasured holiday event in Chicago. We would make it a day-long family expedition, spending time appreciating the Marshal Field windows that were rich with gifts, decorations and scenes that we could only understand from our perspectives on State Street. The Illinois Central train was our preferred sleigh and we would generally have lunch downtown after sightseeing and shopping.

Fast forwarding, life is now cyber sales, Black Fridays and few resilient customs. While I am grateful for the convenience of technology, I also miss the enjoyment of discovering the perfect gift in stacks of merchandise at lavishly decorated stores. Some of that experience continues to be provided in the retail environment but it’s now more the inconvenience of weather, crowded parking lots and lock-downs, rather than elves and fairies dancing in magical window panoramas.

In some ways, the past is best relegated to archives. In others, however, a bit of nostalgia is helpful for definition, appreciation and nourishment through  recollection. Shalom.

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