Bob Tamasy: Nostalgia, Wishful Thinking And The Nativity

Thursday, December 21, 2017 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Do you remember the annual Sears Wish Book? The seasonal catalog sent sugarplums dancing around youngsters’ heads for decades. We complain when stores unveil Christmas decorations in early fall, but the Wish Book appeared in late summer, giving kids months to fantasize over what they would discover under the tree on Christmas day.

A recent newspaper article reminded me of this iconic publication that spanned 1933-1993, featuring everything from tools to telescopes, and most important…toys. It was a winter wonderland for a young person’s imagination months before the first snowflakes would appear.

The Wish Book’s now a remnant of days gone by, but thinking about it flooded me with nostalgia. It’s like watching “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the original “Miracle on 34th Street” with little Natalie Wood, “White Christmas” with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, and even Laurel and Hardy’s “March of the Wooden Soldiers.” They transport us to places and times far, far away, when we weren’t held captive to technology or rumors of impending social upheaval. That was too long ago!

Alas, who needs a Wish Book today when we have Amazon and the Internet? And in our skeptical age, sentiments and values portrayed in movie classics seem sentimental and sappy, hardly a match for the harsh and unsettling realities bombarding us today.

Nostalgia’s a thing of the past – literally. Some people think it’s old hat. And it’s that, too. But I say, bring it on. The more nostalgia, the merrier. Especially during the Christmas season.

Despite new recordings released every year, we smile when we hear traditional holiday tunes like “The Christmas Song,” “Jingle Bells” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” The fragrance of a fresh-cut Christmas tree evokes memories from years past, and for decades we’ve thrilled to hear hapless “Chuck” proclaim the Good News of the first Christmas to the shepherds in the fields in 1965’s “Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Traditional carols remind of us what Christmas is truly about: “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “The First Noel,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” and “Joy to the World.” The favorite of many, “Silent Night,” always draws me back to my boyhood days, attending Christmas Eve services in the Hungarian-American church in New Brunswick, N.J., where the simple tune written by Franz Gruber was simultaneously sung in both Hungarian and English.

Nothing is more nostalgic, in my view, than various depictions of the very first Christmas – Mary, Joseph and the Christ child huddled in a humble stable with cows, sheep, angels and shepherds peering over their shoulders. Ranging from simple creations that fit in the palm of a hand to cute Precious Moments renditions to elaborate Nativity scenes that are true works of art, they remind of the amazing time when “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).

With our annual commemoration of that day nearing, let’s hope and pray that despite the turmoil and discord that seem to reign in society, we will experience the reality of this declaration: “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests’” (Luke 2:13-14). 


Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog,, or his website (now being completed), He can be emailed at

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