Nicole C. Kirk is professor of Unitarian Universalist history at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago. She is currently working on her book Wanamakerâ€™s Temple: John Wanamaker and the Wanamaker Department Store.
In Chicago Christmas begins in November, with the revealing of Marshall Fieldâ€™s (now Macyâ€™s) Christmas windows and the hanging of golden trumpets on the faĂ§ade of the grand old department store. Inside, for more than 100 years the Walnut Room restaurant has glistened in its holiday glory with its centerpiece: a stunning Christmas tree. On the fifth floor, Santa awaits his eager fans in Santaland. The store buzzes with shoppers in a crush of shopping bags from Macyâ€™s and other stores up and down the historic State Street shopping district.
It begins in February. Parents scour websites in the often-competitive sport of hunting for summer camp options. The goal is to keep our children happy, occupied and perhaps even learning something during the long summer.
Summer camps are a relatively new invention, introduced in the early 20th century.
Through the off-again, on-again plans for the Saturday mail, religious leaders and organizations remained quiet. Perhaps they had too many other pressing concerns. What was missed was any discussion of the postal serviceâ€™s importance in American religious history, a history that has been marked by religious frustration and innovation.
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