When I was a child Christmas was far and away my favorite holiday. I'd like to take the part of the ghost of christmas past and bring you back to a simpler time in my very own...
When the Christmas season rolls around residents of Anytown USA are inspired to put colorful lights on and around their houses, whether it was just to decorate the outside or make an extravagant piece of Christmas art. My family never did such things, however we did enjoy driving around listening to Christmas music and gazing at our town's light displays. After Thanksgiving we would get semi regular snow flurries that would cover up most of the outdoor lights but this would only enhance how magical they looked.
The Yule Log was something that always fascinated me as a kid, it was a TV program created in 1966 by a man named Fred Thrower, the President of WPIX (a local New York station), for New Yorkers who lived in apartments with no fireplaces. It featured burning logs in a fireplace on a 17 second loop accompanied by easy listening Christmas music. The original footage was shot in John Lindsay's mansion (the mayor of New York). the program did well critically, The New York Times called it "The television industry's first experiment in nonprogramming." It was replaced some years later by a 6-minute loop, re-shot on 35mm film. It was a Christmas staple for families across the country for almost 35 years.
I always thought that the Yule Log was just a gimmick in shows and movies, when I found out it was real I was very happy such a strange thing existed. People who were not capable of enjoying a fireplace on Christmas Eve/Day could now have a small glimpse of the experience. The Yule Log was cancelled in 1989, executives felt it was a financial drain to have several hours set aside for commercial free programming, but after the September 11th terrorist attacks it was brought back to quench people's thirst for classic comforts in a time of turmoil. The log can now be viewed in HD on some pay channels with all new breathtaking side angles and close-ups.
Christmas time is a time for peace, joy and endless Christmas Carol/Wonderful Life rip-off TV Specials. I always loved it when the specials came on, seeing all the holiday bumpers on TV, anticipating how Will Smith was going find the error of his ways and re-kindle his Christmas spirit.
There were a few specials I enjoyed more then others; there was the Rugrats one that would consist of one part Christmas and one part Chanukah special, the Doug Christmas special where his dog Porkchop is wrongfully accused of biting BeeBe Bluff at the ice rink, but I think the special that stood out the most was Hey Arnold. Helga is secretly helping Arnold find Mr. Whin's long lost daughter, Mr. Whin is a resident in the boarding house Arnold's Grandparents own, Mr. Whin lost his daughter putting her on a helicopter to America after the Vietnam War ended and the U.S. Embassy was overthrown. This was a surprisingly emotional episode that even my parents would watch with me.
One holiday oddity I always enjoyed was that around this time of year Santa Claus and Polar Bears would put aside their differences and endorse Coka-Cola together.
There are endless amounts of Christmas movies out there but there are three in my opinion that are the cream of the crop and I cannot go a Christmas without watching them, the first being...
It's A Wonderful Life
It's A Wonderful Life is about a man named George Bailey, (played by Jimmy Stewart) George took over his father's savings and loan business after his death, worried the town would fall under control of Mr. Potter who owns the competing corporate bank. George is perpetually stuck in his home town of Bedford Falls but dreams of much larger things, unfortunately the people of his town as well as his family need him more and he decides to stay, acting as the glue holding everything together. After an employee accidentally loses their deposit money on Christmas Eve, George attempts suicide and is saved by an angel seeking to earn his wings named Clarence who proceeds to show him what his life would be like if he had never been born.
This is the inspiration for so many TV specials but this movie is very heartwarming and genuine and by far one of my favorites.[/color][/align]
Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
RTRNR first aired on NBC back in 1964. My parents watched it religiously when they were kids so of course we did too. The story was about a reindeer named Rudolph who was born with a red shiney nose thus making him an outcast in school. He runs away from home and in his travels he encounters more misfits such as an elf named Herbie who really wants to be a dentist and a down on his luck but no less bad ass prospector named Yukon Cornelius
Rudolph and the gang venture to the island of misfit toys where they encounter an entire culture of unwanted Christmas presents. Rudolph leaves but promises that Santa will come back and deliver the misfit toys to children who will appreciate them. Rudolph thwarts a yeti like creature known as the Bumble in time to safely guide Santa through a terrible blizzard with his glowing nose.
This movie stands the test of time for me and seems to always get me in the Christmas spirit. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for stop motion animation and I attribute that to this movie, and it doesn't hurt that they have Burl Ives voicing the narrating snowman either.
A Christmas Story
A Christmas Story is a very Norman Rockwell-esque story about a boy named Ralphie who lives in an Indiana Suburb. He longs to receive a Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun for Christmas. Ralphie drops several hints to his parents and santa but it seems everyone is against him telling him "you'll shoot your eye out" a phrase repeated throughout the movie. Ralphie gets his long awaited gun in the end after much anticipation finding it hidden behind a desk and considers this year to be his most memorable Christmas.
I like this movie a lot especially the fantasy sequences, as a kid I always wanted to make my parents feel guilty for punishing me as Ralphie did and I'm sure everyone can relate to the scene where he writes his essay for English class thinking it will be the talk of the town only to receive a C+, much like writing an article on Retrojunk if you as me. The dad played by Darren Mcgavin is always hilarious, he shouts incoherently every time he gets mad and his sworn enemies are the neighbor's dogs and the furnace . Ralphie's circle of friends remind me a lot of my own so it wisps me back to childhood pretty easily. This movie is always on during Christmas eve/day as the ambience of our house due to the 24 hour marathon every Christmas on TBS, I refuse to watch this movie at any other point in the year except in marathon form.
Christmas decorating was taken very seriously in my house. We had a tree that was completely engulfed in ornaments, my mom told us we were not allowed to buy anymore because there was no longer space for them and the current amount was throwing the tree's center of balance off. This is little kenE2389 chillin by the tree.
My mom set up townhouses much like this set up in the picture below, they would quite inconveniently take over entire coffee and picture tables in the living room.
Christmas themed carpets, statues and tinsel were strune throughout the house; the fireplace mantle was covered with stockings for all five kids, 2 adults and the dog. We also had one gigantic stocking we would throw on the back of the chair pictured below that would be filled with movies for the family come Christmas morning, usually the latest Disney release.
Going to see the mall Santa Claus was a big event, The hour long wait in line gave you enough time to articulate what you were going to ask him for. My parents assured me that he was a helper of Santa Claus and would relay my gift wishes to him, this notion was shattered one year when I asked him for the movie Jingle All The Way and told no one else so as not to jinx it, it took me a while to forgive him.
Christmas Eve was always a big event; we would have relatives over for a party and to watch the Christmas Story marathon with us. After a compromised attempt by me and my sister to make cookies by melting Chips Ahoy cookies in the fireplace with a shovel my parents would assist us in making cookies the correct way for Santa Claus.
Seeing one of these popping out of the top of my stocking on Christmas morning would always be appetizing
Going to bed on Christmas Eve was a near impossible task, I would stay awake restlessly awaiting the clock to strike 5am so I could force my parents awake to see what gifts awaited me downstairs. There have only been 3 instances where I begged for something on Christmas morning and nearly lost my mind when I got it, the first instance was when I was 6 years old and all I asked for was gold wrapping paper, my parents looked high and low for this paper and sure enough Christmas morning the living room was a wonderland of presents draped in gold paper. Unfortunately I could not find a picture of this so I'll have to make due with this Google image that doesn't do it the slightest bit of justice.
The next item would be a toy called Big Frank. Big Frank was the Frankenstein monster who's head would pop off to reveal tools that you could work on his malfunctioning body with. I remember the commercial to this day, a giant Frankenstein monster screaming "FIX ME", a phrase uttered by the toy as well as "Mmm.....Goood" after his repairs were complete.
The last item I received one Christmas that blew my mind was the Talkboy F/X Recording Pen, also known as the Cadillac of recording devises for children. We all know the Talkboy used by Kevin McCallister in the film Home Alone.
This was the same thing only in pen form. According to the commercial you could talk into it, slow it down and scare your sister into believing there's a talking frog in her presence, which was the selling point for me. I didn't find it in the main present area under the tree and was stricken with grief only to have my sister throw me my stocking and I thought, OFCOURSE, the stocking, how could I have been so naive, and sure enough it was there, I finally knew the satisfaction Ralphie felt when he found his Red Ryder.
Over the years I have become less susceptible to the Christmas spirit, and I've always longed to get the unadulterated feeling of magic back but it remains impossible. Erma Bombeck once said the only sad thing about the holiday is to wake up Christmas morning and not be a child.
I suppose that's what this website is all about, it gets you as close as possible to your childhood joys but it'll never fully re-capture the feeling, it's like when you wake up from a great dream and you try to trick yourself into thinking your still sleeping, the only thing we can do is remember it fondly. Thank you for reading, in closing I'd like to quote the great Krusty The Clown and say "Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah, a crazy Kwanzaa, a tip-tot tet, and a solemn, dignified Ramadan".