Sometimes, when I'm in my daughter's room, I'm amazed at how many unicorns there are in it (note: she wants it known that there are more than enough X-Wings and TARDISes there, too). They're on her bookshelves, in her Playmobil and Schleich boxes, on posters on her wall, on shirts in her wardrobe (probably to be replaced by the rainbow-farting variety by the time she turns thirteen) and in her bed, where resides her favourite stuffed toy since early childhood, whose essentialness is perfectly summed up by the fact that its name is simply "unicorn".
When I think back to my own childhood, there weren't any of these things. I still remember the sense of utter amazement that my mother took me to see an animated film about a unicorn, and I was over the moon when I got the book by Peter S. Beagle for Christmas. I had one unicorn poster on my bedroom door - and that was the movie poster, for which I had desperately pleaded with the owner of the local video rental. It hung there until it literally fell apart. Fantasy was just something that nobody really noticed. When I wrote my favourite books and films into friendship books, I was always the only one who wrote in Fantasy titles. None of my friends had ever seen or read any of the things I lived and breathed. Nowadays, the movie is on every year at Christmas Eve (which I consider a terribly depressing thing, as Christmas Eve is when everybody in Germany should be sitting around a table with family), but back then, it never ran on TV, and we didn't have a video player, so I had to wait about four years after that first viewing to see it again, badgering friends who had a video player to rent it, and then I came over armed with a tape recorder and a couple of empty cassettes, kneeling in front of the speakers to record the whole damn film, at times whispering explanations into the microphone if I feared the audio wasn't clear enough "(Now the unicorns are coming out of the sea.")
Just yesterday, I had another reminder of how much these things have changed. At the Essen Games Fair, we wondered where "the" Fantasy hall was (for twenty years, there had always been one hall devoted to RPGs, LARP, CCGs, tabletops etc), and this year, there was no one Fantasy hall. Fantasy was everywhere. Right there in the main halls, next to children's games, interspersed with everything else, played by all sorts of people.
A few years ago, at the height of the Lord of the Rings craze, my totally un-Fantasy father (play him 5 minutes of something that doesn't exist in real life, and he falls straight asleep), told me to focus on some other thing for my art, because surely this Fantasy thing would be completely over in a few years. It only occurred to me yesterday that this is unlikely to happen, and that makes me so very happy.