With Christmas approaching fast, I went to have a look at the brand-new Christmas decorations at the world-famous Toronto Eaton Centre. What I found was surprising, and disappointing.
Although I am an atheist, or maybe precisely because I am, I have always loved Christmas. I like Christmas trees, German Christmas carols sung by under-practiced children's choirs, mulled wine, nativity scenes -even though it puzzles me why these only very vaguely depict the myths of the Bible- the colours and the smells. In short: yes, I love Christmas. I think it is one of the great traditions of our culture.
When I first came to Toronto, the Eaton Centre seemed truly marvellous. I went there more than once a day to have an I scream and drool over the numberless gadgets in the stores. It is now 15 years later, and my perspective has changed. I hardly ever go there anymore, disappointed as I am that most stores have become uninspiring clothing stores for people who are convinced that they can only stand out by doing what everybody else is doing.
Nevertheless, the time leading up to Christmas is a time that drives me to go the Eaton Centre, have a look at the Christmas decorations, have an ice cream, eat something and enjoy myself. This year, the Eaton Centre is in the middle of a major overhaul, so I expected the Christmas decorations to be small, easily removable and generally subdued.
I was wrong. The decoration they put up is truly massive, an entire story high, or even higher. It is, however, limited to a few focal points, and there is very little to be found around these focal points, to the point that the casual visitor might not even notice the decoration at all. In the newly renovated north food court, there is absolutely no Christmas decoration whatsoever.
In spite of the massive decoration, I am unhappy because it is manifestly unChristmas-like. The only thing that vaguely reminds me of a traditional Christmas is the Christmas tree next to the fountain. Unfortunately, this tree is an advertisement for a company that makes glass trinkets and it does actually a rather poor job of showing these off. This is not a tree one would associate with the magic of Christmas.
In all, I got the impression that the Eaton Centre is tired. It put up some decoration because it is expected to, and is trying to hide its lack of inspiration by making it gigantic. The result isn't half bad, but it completely lacks the inspiring Christmassy feel that one would expect during the Christmas season.
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