25 Days of Christmas: Day 19 ~ A Century of American Christmases, Part III (1960-1980)

Christmas in the 1960s

1960 tape recorderA pivotal decade, the 1960s were marked by the Civil Rights movement, the rise of the hippies, the Bay of Pigs, the Vietnam War, and the race to be the first nation to reach the moon. Postwar baby boomers began to transition from teenagers to adults against a background of toys that included Easy Bake Ovens, the Etch-a-Sketch, and GI Joe.

1960s Christmas Budget

Kitchen convenience was offered in style in the 1960s – never mind the refrigerator, check out the lazy Susans and the electric can openers!

  • Lazy Susan – $4.76
  • Electric can opener – $7.77
  • Ladies’ stretch slacks – $3.97
  • Aluminum Christmas tree and stand – $2.99
  • “Your kiddie’s Polaroid picture taken with Santa himself” – $0.49
  • Viewmaster stereo viewer in “rugged, shock-resistant plastic” – $1.75

 Christmas in the 1970s

1970sProtest against the Vietnam War increased as the decade opened; it would close with the capture of hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, after seeing the end of the war and the resignation of a president, North America families took to the highways in station wagons, sporting mood rings and playing with Rubik’s Cubes, skate-boards, and Matchbox cars.

1970s Christmas Budget

  • Stereo set with turntable and 8-track player – $199.95
  • AM radio mounted in headphones – $14.95
  • Lava lamp – $45.00
  • “25-function” calculator – $49.95
  • CB radio – $89.95
  • Bionic Man action figure – $6.65
  • Baby Thataway – $8.88
  • Ten-speed bike – $99.50
  • Evel Knievel stunt cycle – $9.95

Christmas in the 1980s

1980sThe beginning of the end for the Cold War marked the close of this decade, as the Berlin Wall fell in Germany. Here at home, the drive toward space continued with the first reusable space vehicle, the Space Shuttle, in 1981. Computers arrived in homes and schools, while video games such as Nintendo and Pac Man gained huge followings. Shoppers flocked to stores in search of Cabbage Patch Dolls, while other hot toys included Trivial Pursuit and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

1980s Christmas Budget

  • Microwave oven – $227.00
  • Videocassette recorder (1980) – $1,395
  • Videocassette recorder (1989) – $299
  • Garfield telephone – $44.70
  • Space Invaders video game cassette – $24.88
  • Care Bear – $13.99
  • Castle Greyskull, from Masters of the Universe Collection – $23.99
  • Lazer tag game kit – $29.99
  • Rambo Rocket water launcher – $14.96

(Jeffrey, Yvonne; The Everything Family Christmas Book)



Hello Autumn

Autumn is a season filled with change, days become shorter and although it is often warm and sunny during the daylight hours, evenings can get a bit chilly.  Corn is one of the major crops you will see swaying in the fields waiting to be harvested; and this is the season when animals prepare to hibernate by storing fat that will sustain them through the winter months.

Whether you refer to this time of the year as “Fall” or “Autumn” it conjures up the same visions of trees changing into beautiful shades of red, gold, yellow, brown, green, and orange and the fallen leaves will soon be covering your yard (or your neighbors).  On the way are cool and crisp nights, bonfires, camping, hot cocoa, pumpkins (and all the wonderfully fabulous drinks and dishes made with them), and fires in the fireplace.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Not only is Autumn my favorite time of the year, but it is also the start of all the really neat festivals in my neck of the woods; and, October is usually the start of my Christmas shopping frenzy.  I begin thinking about my Thanksgiving menu and pulling the seasonal decorations out of the attic.  This is the time year when I reminisce about seasons from long ago and all the big family meals we would have together when we traveled near and far to spend the holidays together.

New Seasons, New Beginnings

This year I have a new man in my life to share the holidays, the laughter, and adventures…my fourth grandchild Baby “X.”  He is only seven weeks old and has already added so much joy to our home and family.  He is beginning to respond to the googly faces Nona does for him and the raspberry kisses lovingly shared.  I am blessed to have two of my three children and their family living near and life would be complete if my eldest and his family could be closer.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As we ready for the cooler days and chilly nights, below are some Autumn fun facts and trivia for you to enjoy and share.

  • Maples, Oaks, Elms, Birch & Ash trees are just a few of the trees that give spectacular colors during the autumn season.
  • September, October, and November are the best months for “Fall planting.”
  • The pumpkin is a member of the gourd family.
  • The Autumn/Fall season runs from September 21st through November 21st.
  • Why is the season called “Fall”? What happens in the natural world during this season? The leaves on many trees die and fall to the ground. About five hundred (500) years ago, when Middle English was spoken, expressions like “fall of the leaf” and “fall of the year” were quite common, and the season name “Fall” comes from them.
  • Autumn marks the end of baseball season and the start of football.
  • In Greek mythology this was supposed to be the time when Persephone rejoined Hades in the underworld.
  • The Chinese celebrate the Moon Festival around this time of the year with particular emphasis on being thankful for the success of the summer harvest.
  • One of the visible signs of fall is the changing color of the leaves. This happens because photosynthesis stops during this period so leaves do not stay green.
  • Favorite fall fruit and vegetables include apples, spinach, squash, bell peppers and, of course, pumpkin.
  • The custom of bobbing for apples originates from Roman times.
  • Evergreen trees remain green through the winter because they have waxy leaves which do not freeze.
  • Autumn’s full mood is called, The Harvest Moon. Long ago farmers would take advantage of the Harvest Moon’s light to “harvest” their crops because in late summer and early autumn many crops would ripen all at once. This made farmers have to stay in the fields long after sundown to harvest them and the moonlight became essential to their harvest.

Below are links to some area festivals and other fun things to do in the Fall in major cities.

Cincinnati         Seattle               Tampa          Atlanta            Dallas

Birmingham      Nashville           Miami           Los Angeles    Cleveland

Charlotte           Indianapolis     Knoxville       Sioux Falls      Rapid City

Fargo                 Boise                Little Rock    Wichita            Denver

Portland            Billings             Philly              Charleston      Grand Rapids


Christmas Trivia

For many around the globe December 25th marks a religious holiday in which we celebrate Jesus’ birth.  Over the centuries, it has been marked with fictional characters such as Santa and his famous reindeer of nine. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer from memorizing them in your childhood? Go ahead, sing the song “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer,” it will help you.

Since I am always interested in holiday traditions, how and where they originated, and why we practice them, I have compiled a list of Christmas facts from many outside sources (to which the original creator is unknown and proper credit cannot be acknowledged nor verified.)

Fun Facts

  1. Santa Claus was a real Saint (German: Sankt Nikolaus). He lived in what is now known as Turkey but was referred to as Myra in the 300s.
  2. Merry Christmas has name translations around the world.  Here are just a few of the more popular locations.  Sheng Tan Kuai Loh (China), Hauskaa Joulua (Finland), Joyeux Noel (France), Nadolig Llawen (Wales), and God Jul (Sweden).
  3. The Candy Cane is one of the most familiar symbols of Christmas. It dates back to 1670 in Europe but did not appear in the United States until the 1800s. The treat we see today, where the shape is Jesus’s hook to shepherd his lambs and the color and stripes hold significance for purity and Christ’s sacrifice, became common in the mid 1900s.
  4. The Christmas Stocking got its start when three unmarried girls did their laundry and hung their stockings on the chimney to dry. Because they had no dowry, they could not marry; however St. Nicholas knew of their plight and put a sack of gold in each stocking and in the morning the girls awoke to discover they had dowry’s and could now marry.

  5. Of the estimated 7,201,398,000 people in the world today, it is estimated that one out of 3 people celebrate Christmas worldwide, including 2.2-billion Christians. 
  6. The most popular Christmas Song ever is We Wish You a Merry Christmas. The song can be traced back to England, but its author and composer remains unknown.

  7. US scientists calculated that Santa would have to visit 822 homes a second to deliver all the world’s presents on Christmas Eve, travelling at 650 miles a second.
  8. The tradition of putting tangerines in stockings comes from 12th-century French nuns who left socks full of fruit, nuts and tangerines at the houses of the poor.

  9. Carols began as an old English custom called wassailing, toasting neighbors to a long life and were not 

    sung in churches until they were introduced by St Francis of Assisi in the 13th century.

  10. Hanging stockings comes from the Dutch custom of leaving shoes packed with food for St Nicholas’s donkeys. He would leave small gifts in return.
  11. Nearly 60-million Christmas trees are grown each year in Europe.
  12. The word Noel derives from the French expression “les bonnes nouvelles” or “the good news.”
  13. Many theologians estimate that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th but sometime in September between 6BC and 30AD and that December 25th is a unison day for the World to celebrate His birth.
  14. James Pierpont’s 1857 song Jingle Bells was first called One Horse Open Sleigh and was originally written for Thanksgiving.
  15. Before turkey, the traditional Christmas meal in England was a pig’s head and mustard.

  16. 530960_412511475489183_1847731354_nIn 1999, residents of the state of Maine in America built the world’s biggest ever snowman. He stood at 113 ft 7 inches tall and was called Angus, King of the Mountain.
  17. The Greeks celebrate Christmas on January 7, according to the old Julian calendar, while Christmas presents are opened on New Year’s Day.

  18. The holly in a wreath symbolizes Christ’s crown of thorns while the red berries are drops of his blood.
  19. The long shopping season before Christmas began in America when relatives of soldiers stationed overseas in the Second World War were encouraged to mail gifts early.

  20. Jingle Bells was the first song broadcast from space when Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra sang it on December 16, 1965.
  21. The first artificial Christmas Tree was not a tree at all. It was created out of goose feathers that were dyed.

  22. Santa has different names around the world – Kris Kringle (Germany), Le Befana (Italy), Pere Noel (France), and Deushka Moroz meaning Grandfather Frost (Russia).
  23. The word Christmas comes from the Old English “Cristes maesse” meaning “Christ’s Mass”.

  24. The bestselling Christmas single ever is Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, selling over 50-million copies worldwide since 1942.
  25. Christmas pudding was originally a soup made with raisins and wine.

  26. Kissing under the mistletoe is thought to spring from Frigga, the Norse goddess of love, who was associated with the plant.
  27. The Beatles hold the record for the most #1 Christmas singles, topping the charts in 1963, 65 and 67.

  28. Electric tree lights were invented by Edward Johnson in the US in 1882.
  29. Rudolph red-nosed reindeer was invented for US firm “Montgomery Ward”  children’s Christmas book promotion in 1939 to drive traffic into the stores.
  30. Gold wrapped chocolate coins commemorate St Nicholas who gave bags of gold coins to the poor.
  31. The first Christmas celebrated in Britain is thought to have been in York in 521AD.
  32. In Greece, Italy, Spain and Germany, workers get a Christmas bonus of one month’s salary by law.
  33. 486342_409895365750794_1953333469_nIn the Czech Republic they enjoy dinners of fish soup, eggs and carp. The number of people at the table must be even, or the one without a partner will die next year.
  34. Each year more than 3 billion Christmas cards are mailed in the United States.
  35. All the gifts in the Twelve Days of Christmas would equal 364 gifts.
  36. The “true love” mentioned in the song “Twelve Days of Christmas” does not refer to a romantic couple, but the Catholic Church’s code for God. The person who receives the gifts represents someone who has accepted that code. For example, the “partridge in a pear tree” represents Christ. The “two turtledoves” represent the Old and New Testaments.
  37. Most of Santa’s reindeer have male-sounding names, such as Blitzen, Comet, and Cupid. However, male reindeers shed their antlers around Christmas, so the reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh are likely not male, but female.
  38. In 350AD Pope Julius I, bishop of Rome, proclaimed December 25 the official celebration date for the birthday of Christ.
  39. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the tallest Christmas tree ever cut was a 221-foot Douglas fir that was displayed in 1950 at the Northgate Shopping Center in Seattle, Washington.
  40. The traditional three colors of Christmas are green, red, and gold. Green has long been a symbol of life and rebirth; red symbolizes the blood of Christ, and gold represents light as well as wealth and royalty.
  41. The world’s largest Christmas stocking measured 106 feet and 9 inches (32.56 m) long and 49 feet and 1 inch (14.97 m) wide. It weighed as much as five reindeer and held almost 1,000 presents. It was made by the Children’s Society in London on December 14, 2007.
  42. Christmas trees have been sold in the United States since 1850.
  43. Christmas trees usually grow for about 15 years before they are cut and sold.
  44. Many European countries believed that spirits, both good and evil, were active during the Twelve Days of Christmas. These spirits eventually evolved into Santa’s elves, especially under the influence of Clement C. Moore’s The Night Before Christmas(1779-1863) illustrated by Thomas Nast (1840-1902).
  45. The British wear paper crowns while they eat Christmas dinner. The crowns are stored in a tube called a “Christmas cracker.
  46. Alabama was the first state in the United States to officially recognize Christmas in 1836.
  47. Christmas was not declared an official holiday in the United States until June 26, 1870.
  48. 215884_412134998860164_555310391_nOklahoma was the last U.S. state to declare Christmas a legal holiday, in 1907.
  49. Mistletoe (Viscum album) is from the Anglo-Saxon word misteltan, which means “little dung twig” because the plant spreads though bird droppings.
  50. Because they viewed Christmas as a decadent Catholic holiday, the Puritans in America banned all Christmas celebrations from 1659-1681 with a penalty of five shillings for each offense. Some Puritan leaders condemned those who favored Christmas as enemies of the Christian religion.
  51. A Yule log is an enormous log that is typically burned during the Twelve Days of Christmas (December 25-January 6). 
  52. Early illustrations of St. Nicholas depict him as stern, commanding, and holding a birch rod. He was more a symbol of discipline and punishment than the jolly, overweight elf children know today.
  53. Puritan Oliver Cromwell outlawed Christmas celebrations and carols in England from 1649-1660. The only celebrations allowed were sermons and prayers.
  54. There are two competing claims as to which U.S. President was the first to place a Christmas tree in the White House. Some scholars say President Franklin Pierce did in 1856; others say President Benjamin Harrison brought in the first tree in 1889. President Coolidge started the White House lighting ceremony in 1923.
  55. President Teddy Roosevelt, an environmentalist, banned Christmas trees from the White House in 1912.
  56. There are approximately 21,000 Christmas tree farms in the United States. In 2008, nearly 45 million Christmas trees were planted, adding to the existing 400 million trees.
  57. The first printed reference to a Christmas tree was in 1531 in Germany.
  58. In 1962, the first Christmas postage stamp was issued in the United States.
  59. Using small candles to light a Christmas tree dates back to the middle of the 17th century.
  60. The official Christmas tree tradition at Rockefeller Center began in 1933. Since 2004 the tree has been topped with a 550-pound Swarovski Crystal star. And since 2007, the tree has been lit with 30,000 energy-efficient LED’s which are powered by solar panels.
  61. President Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the White House lawn in 1923.
  62. In 1963, the National Christmas Tree was not lit until December 22nd, because of a national 30-day period of mourning following the assassination of President Kennedy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thanksgiving Test Run

Electric Turkey FryerMomma got her a new electric turkey fryer and she ain’t afraid to use it.

Well, we won’t be after tonight’s test run for Thanksgiving dinner.  I don’t want to burn the bird for the big day and screw up dinner for the gang.

The great thing about this contraption is that I can prepare huge batches of fried food at one time.  Yeah I know…my doctor isn’t going to be happy about that little fact.

Anyway, will post an update on the first fried bird.

Okay, here it is 45 minutes later and I have a fully fried 13.5 pound turkey ready to eat.  Looks delish, can’t wait for the first bite.  Ah..um, this would be the first turkey I’ve cooked this way without help.


Winter Vacation 2012

I have not had a “winter vacation” in more than a decade.  I am so psyched and looking forward to my 11 days of winter bliss, some R&R, and hopefully there will be a little time left for blogging.  Looking forward to much-needed quality time with those I love, Christmas music, snow, and hot chocolate (with mini marshmallows).

Your Plans?

Are you doing anything special for the Christmas holidays this year? (That is….if we wake up the morning of December 22nd.) I am interested in seeing how many ways readers will be enjoying their holiday this year.

My Plans!

It is my intention give it my best effort and learn to ski this year (or at least learn to stand in ski’s and not fall).  Let’s just keep fingers crossed that I do not break anything, this old body ain’t what it used to be, but it’s all I’ve got.  🙂  We might even throw in some tubing or snowboarding (of course I will seek activities which will allow me to be close to the ground…like sitting, as it decreases the “fall” risk)  ;-).