Monday, December 17, 2012
Monday, December 10, 2012
Friday, December 23, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
We stumbled across this film from Finland a couple years ago. It's dubbed in English, and although the dubbing isn't the greatest, the story is so charming and all other production values so high, it's become a favorite in our house. It's available for streaming on Netflix or in DVD form. Highly recommended for young and old.
This is what the blurb on Netflix says; "This heartwarming drama from Finland follows a young orphan named Nikolas (Hannu-Pekka Björkman), who shows his appreciation to a series of foster families by starting a new tradition: He gives their children gifts at Christmastime. But when Nikolas is forced to move in with a cantankerous old man (Kari Väänänen), the new holiday custom may fade into oblivion in director Juha Wuolijoki's enchanting fantasy about jolly old St. Nick as a boy."
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Sunday, December 4, 2011
All three pictures are from the Library of Congress and all three were taken on Dec. 4th, 1920.
Courtesy of the Bain News Service, the caption on each reads, "Letter To Santa". They all purport to have been shot in New York City, but the lad in the middle seems to be dressed for warmer climes.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
We ran into Santa yesterday while we were out and about on errands. He was in his shirtsleeves, due to the weather being in the high 70s.
That's my older sister with Santa in the 1950s, on a big trip to downtown San Diego. And below, the two of us, dressed in matching red flannel outfits my mom made, posing with candy canes, waiting for Christmas Day.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
We ventured out for a few last minute errands earlier this week. The landscaping at the shopping area was festive with ruffled cabbages, dianthus and snapdragons in Christmas red and white.
Much to our delight, who should be sitting outside under the shade of a canopy but the best Santa we'd seen this whole season - maybe any season. His outfit was just right - black belt, high top boots, a twinkle in his eye and a sprig of holly on his cap.
He had enchanted this trio of youngsters, even, remarkably, the oldest one, who had to be close to 12. He took his time and spoke quietly to each child in turn.
In years to come, these children will likely remember this Santa long after they've forgotten any particular present received. We will, too!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
My favorite neighbors came by last night and took me along for Japanese food and a drive through town to admire the Christmas lights. Above, that's the lotus tower at the Self Realization Fellowship on the Coast Highway, decorated beautifully for Christmas.
A row of candy canes on light posts and palm tree trunks wrapped with lights.
Looking up through a canopy of purple and yellow lights as we drove under.
Santa had set up shop under three open air tents and was taking last minute requests from excited children.
On this day before Christmas Eve, here's an historic carol.
Before there was "Rudolf, The Red Nosed Reindeer" or "Frosty The Snowman", there was "Bring A Torch, Jenette, Isabelle", a French Christmas carol dating back to the mid 1500s. In this video, the venerable song is performed by a high school choir dressed in English Renaissance costumes in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, in 2007.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
This picture was taken of my sister and me fifty years ago, on a major outing to the big city of San Diego. At the time, San Diego had a population of 450,000 and coming from a town of less than 5,000 residents, it seemed like a teeming metropolis to us.
This was before shopping centers existed and a visit to "Downtown" was a major event. Elevators in department stores had white gloved attendants who asked "Which floor, Miss?" and held the door while you stepped gingerly over the crack, not wanting to fall through.
San Diego had two major department stores - Marston's and Walker Scott's. Both went all out with the Christmas window displays and inside decorations. Each store had their own Santa and getting a photograph taken with him was a really big deal.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Even given my abiding love of Christmas and its traditions, Santa's path and mine rarely cross. So when by chance this fellow was happened upon earlier this week, you might imagine my surprise. This is just wrong... No gingerbread cottage or snowy chalet for Santa '09 - more a glorified storage shed like the kind you see in a Home Depot parking lot, only with a towering token plastic candy cane off to one side. Any pine Christmas trees? No, a variety of Italian cypress instead. Gone was the traditional red suit trimmed in white fur, replaced by a flannel pajama top and kaleidoscopic striped knee socks better suited to elves or traveling circus clowns. No wonder he's frowning! Seriously, some things don't need to be fixed. Leave Santa alone!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Santa's famous eight reindeer were first described in an anonymously written 1823 poem called "A Visit From St. Nicholas". Their names were Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blixem. Donder and Blixem are Dutch for thunder and lightning, and those names were later changed to the German, Donner and Blitzen, which also translate to thunder and lightning. Rudolph, with his nose so bright, didn't put in an appearance until the 1900s. More recently, Hollywood and some misguided authors have tried to foist some new reindeer onto the team. To the relief of traditionalists, Fireball, Leroy, Pedro and Olive haven't gained much traction.
This old photograph was taken in Archangel, Russia in the 1890s. It shows the locals preparing their sleigh, getting ready to travel by reindeer. Good to know that Santa Claus had plenty of helpers beyond the North Pole, even then.
The photograph is part of the Detroit Publishing Company collection in the archives of the Library of Congress. It is described in the margins as a "photomechanical print".
Thursday, December 18, 2008
This photograph is from the collection of the National Photo Company in the archives of the Library of Congress. It was taken in 1921 in Washington, D.C. Obviously, postal employees had more leeway then in deciding how they might encourage customers to mail early during the Christmas season.
Friday, December 12, 2008
For some reason, we don't see White Rock soda in these parts any more, but it was a staple in most supermarkets and our favorite when we were kids. It didn't taste much different from the other sodas, but definitely had the best logo, and that was reason alone to choose it. The White Rock soda lady is actually Psyche, famous lover of Cupid in Greek and Roman mythology.
The White Rock Company was founded in 1871 in Waukesha, Wisconsin and initially bottled water from a natural spring the Potawtomi Indians believed contained healing powers. Popular as a remedy, within 5 years, the bottled mineral water was being sold all across the country.
Many credit Coca-Cola with being the first company to popularize Santa Claus as a marketing tool. Not so. White Rock first used the jolly old soul in 1915 to pitch their water and again in 1923 for their ginger ale.
The company still makes seltzers, mixes and sodas, and the White Rock lady is still a great logo.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Some years back, any would-be Santa Claus seeking employment for the Christmas season needed to pass a course and get certification at a Santa Claus school. This 1961 photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt is from Life Magazine's archives. These soon to be department store Santas learn to adjust their wigs and beards just so.