Boomers and their doting parents
The parents of the Boomer generation grew up in tough times. The economy crashed in 1929 and was followed by The Great Depression that lasted through the 1930s, with World War II on its heels.
So when the U.S. entered a period of incredible post war prosperity and self-confidence that lasted from 1945 until the mid-60s, our folks could hardly believe the standard of living they now enjoyed.
The glamorous lives they had only glimpsed in the movies, in magazines and on that new fast-growing miracle medium, television, were now available to them and their adorable little offspring – that would be us, the painfully cute Boomers.
American families splurged on consumer goods of all types. And when the Christmas season rolled around, it was time for parental indulgence on steroids, with us firmly fixed at the center of their attention.
Of course, we Boomers couldn’t know how wonderfully better our holidays were than those of our depression-era moms and dads. Sure, Santa didn’t deliver all the gifts we asked for, but we got way more than they dared dream about in their own childhoods. Our trees were more lavish, the treats and goodies were more plentiful and non-stop holiday entertainment – our parents’ old favorites and new shows just for us – was beamed right into our living rooms, courtesy of ABC, CBS and NBC.
Culled from Internet Movie Database user-ratings, here are the top ten Christmas-themed movies from the Boomers’ childhood. Thanks to their popularity and PG innocence, they all still air, regular as clockwork, year after year for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.
- It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) … user rating 8.7/10
- A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) … user rating 8.5/10
- How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) … user rating 8.5/10
- Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) … user rating 8.2/10
- A Christmas Carol (1951) … user rating 8.1/10
- Miracle On 34th Street (1947) … user rating 7.9/10
- Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (1970) … user rating 7.9/10
- White Christmas (1954) … user rating 7.6/10
- Holiday Inn (1942) … user rating 7.6/10
- Christmas In Connecticut (1945) … user rating 7.5/10
How the Boomers took the Christmas “Big Idea” viral
By the mid-1970s, when the littlest Boomers had figured out the Santa thing, the modern concept of the Christmas holiday season – now rich in secular imagery – was already firmly established.
Rooted in the idealized nostalgia of mid 20th century Americana, it’s a world of Santa and Rudolph, of twinkling lights on a richly decorated tree – crowned by a star and surrounded by a mound of gifts – of cozy fireplaces with Christmas stockings hanging from the mantelpiece and of snowy landscapes where Frosty waits to play.
It was a legacy from our doting parents, and we loved it. In the coming decades we would expand, embellish and pass it down to our own Gen X and Millennial children.
And, eventually, Boomer marketers would make it globally accessible and take it viral.
One can debate whether we marketers were naughty or nice, but thanks to our zeal, from Boston to Beijing, from LA to London and from Seattle to Singapore those sleigh bells are a-jing, jing, jingling, we’re dreaming of a white Christmas and children wonder if reindeer really know how to fly.
In our humble opinion, if we helped Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Rosemary Clooney and Ella Fitzgerald to live on in hearts around the world, the bottom line comes down on the side of nice.
While we’re on the topic of marketing …
The colossal spending power of the Boomer-Plus Generation™ born 1940-1964 comes into sharp focus at this time of year.
Controlling over two thirds of U.S. household net worth, and with 89 million members, as a country it would be the world’s 15th most populous – the 15th Nation™ – and a bigger, more affluent market than any EU nation or than Canada and Australia combined.
Brands that take the time to ask for a place on our gift list will find the holiday spirit can last all year long.