WODS out of Boston, which is usually an oldies station the rest of the year, has started in with Christmas songs. I expected the secular songs, even the novelty ones like "Dominick, the Italian Christmas Donkey" (no, I am not linking to that) to predominate, but I suspected some of the better-known carols would work their way in. There have been none. I don't know if it is intentional because of some imagined complaint or protest they would have, but there is absolutely nothing in the entire rotation that would suggest the holiday was ever religious, let alone religious now. The lone exception is So let's give thanks to the Lord above, 'cuz Santa Claus comes tonight.
In NH, which competes with VT and ME for lowest church attendance in the country - we are at European 4% levels every week - there is nowhere children will learn carols except at home. Those churches big enough to have a children's choir might fluff up the total a bit, and most Sunday School classes work in at least one song during the Advent season, but it's still sparse.
A young friend who is music director at a hip, independent church is already encountering rebellion from members who don't want to have traditional Christmas music played - they don't know it, didn't grow up with it, don't have strong associations with it. The break is almost complete here. My wife and I are closer to the Christmas music of 1900 - possibly even 1850 - than to 2011. Tracy and I both had Christmas carol focus even in college and were unusual in that in the 1970's - though hardly unique. We knew multiple verses and made it a point to learn them solidly for many songs. Our boys grew up hearing that, but weren't made to copy it - some obsessions can only be volunteered for, not imposed.
The generation above us had more people like us in that way. Few in ours. There may be none in our children's generation. Well, I think this will influence what Christmas music I post this year.