Not my Santa

parallel santas

Not My Santa

TXT Stories gives us a glimpse at a parallel universe where Santa has no sense of direction. I’m really glad our Santa doesn’t have these problems!

TXTMAS #11 – SANTA’S LOST | by txtstories

TXTMAS EP. 11 – when santa needs a little guidance. 🗺
#txtmas

Posted by TXT Stories on Sunday, December 24, 2017

Elves’ Day Off

Elves’ Day Off

Well, we probably don’t need to know this much about elf dating but the folks at TXT Stories decided to follow the rabbit hole as deep as they could go.

TXTMAS 2018 #7 – ONE NIGHT OFF |by txtstories

TXTMAS EP. 7 – elves get one day off all year… 😏
#txtmas

Posted by TXT Stories on Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Personally, I’d expect the elves are getting carpal tunnel syndrome therapy on their day off considering they spend all year making toys but we all have our own ideas of how Santa’s helpers unwind.

A Letter To Santa

A Letter To Santa

There is an outfit on FaceBook called TXT Stories and they’ve made a number of interesting stories for the holidays that I’d like to share with you. Today, being Christmas Eve, I’d like to share this one. It’s an exchange between a desperate mother and a Santa her son saw at their local shopping mall.

TXTMAS 2018 #8 – A TEXT TO SANTA | by txtstories

TXTMAS EP. 8 – texting a letter to santa… ✨🎅🎁
#txtmas

Posted by TXT Stories on Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How’s that for a surprise ending? I’ve got some more to share in the coming days. Some are helpful and some are just silly.

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a clever way of telling a story. Technology is definitely having a wonderful effect on our culture. The ability to tell a story in the form of a simulated text exchange is something quite new and innovative. It’s an interesting spin on the slice of life skits you see in high school and youth group amateur theatrics taken to a new level with computer animation. The folks at TXT Stories are quite creative as you’ll see in the coming days. Stay tuned!

Santa’s Here!

Santa’s Here!

It’s been a couple of hours already, but Santa has arrived in New York City at the conclusion of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. His arrival kicks off the official Christmas Shopping Season. Goodness knows that merchants far and wide have been shelving holiday items for weeks already, but in the eyes of many people the Christmas season doesn’t begin until after the turkey and pumpkin pie have been devoured and the leftovers stashed in the fridge.

Now that we’re into the magical Christmas season, let’s remember that from its revamp in the mid-Nineteenth Century it’s been all about kids and they sure do love it. It might be the thought of some long-anticipated time off from school, the glamor of the lights and decor, the pristine beauty of the snow that often accompanies Christmas or just the anticipation of Santa and his toy-filled sleigh that so excites the children but it is obvious that most kids are totally captivated by Christmastime. Whatever the reason, the children’s joy is why many adults truly enjoy shopping for kids at Christmastime.

While Christmas shopping for kids is a great deal of fun, there are some things to consider when Christmas shopping for your kids. An important consideration is selecting age-appropriate toys. Select toys that are not too noisy or too big for the child’s living space. Select toys the child does not already have. Select toys their parents will consider to be acceptable. Finally, select toys the children will enjoy. This can make Christmas shopping for kids challenging, but it doesn’t make shopping any less fun.

Selecting age-appropriate toys is crucial when Christmas shopping for kids. This is important for a number of reasons. First of all, it is important because toys which are designed for older kids could potentially be dangerous for the child. For example, toys that are designed for children over the age of three might include small pieces that would pose a choking hazard. Children under the age of three still have a tendency to put toys and other objects in their mouths, so they must receive toys only containing pieces large enough not to be a choking hazard. Also, toys for a different age category may not be as much fun for a kid as they would be for kids of the appropriate age. If the child is too young for the toy, he may become easily frustrated because he can not use the toy appropriately. On the other hand, a kid who is too old for a particular toy may become bored with the toy quickly.

When shopping for Christmas gifts for kids, it is also important to consider the children’s parents and their living situation. This includes the size of their home or apartment and their proximity to the neighbors. Toys which are really noisy may not be appropriate for a kid living in an apartment building. Also, large gifts such as a trampoline may not be appropriate if a child does not have a yard large enough to accommodate it. Likewise, large indoor items such as a foosball table aren’t appropriate for kids who do not have a dedicated toy room big enough to accommodate such a large item. As a general rule, it is best to stick with small items that don’t make a lot of noise when you are Christmas shopping for kids.

It’s also important to consider the personal beliefs of their parents when shopping for children’s Christmas gifts. Specifically, you should not purchase a gift for a child if you know their parents are ethically opposed to particular items. Guns and violent video games are obvious examples of Christmas gifts that could offend certain parents. There are many parents who do not allow their children to play with items of this sort because they believe the toys promote violence. If you’re not certain about the parents’ point of view, it is best to avoid these kinds of toys.

Finally, when Christmas shopping for a child, it is best to check with the parents beforehand. This will be beneficial for a couple of reasons. First, the parents can give some insight into the child’s hobbies and interests. This will make selecting an appropriate gift easier. They may even suggest a specific item from the child’s Christmas list ensuring you are giving that kid something she really wants for Christmas. Consulting her parents can also save you from giving a toy she already has. Check with the parents before you make a purchase to see if they will suggest another item. They can let you know if they think their child will enjoy the gift or if the child already has it.

Here are some all-time favs. Feel free to sing along!

The Children’s Friend

The Children’s Friend

This poem was published anonymously as a booklet in 1821. Clement Clarke Moore drew from the themes and ideas of this poem to craft his own “Visit from Saint Nicholas”.

Old Santeclaus with much delight
His reindeer drives this frosty night,
O’er chimney tops, and tracks of snow,
To bring his yearly gifts to you.

The steady friend of virtuous youth,
The friend of duty, and of truth,
Each Christmas eve he joys to come
Where love and peace have made their home.

Through many houses he has been,
And various beds and stockings seen;
Some, white as snow, and neatly mended,
Others, that seem’d for pigs intended.

Where e’er I found good girls or boys,
That hated quarrels, strife and noise,
I left an apple, or a tart,
Or wooden gun, or painted cart;

To some I gave a pretty doll,
To some a peg-top, or a ball;
No crackers, cannons, squibs, or rockets,
To blow their eyes up, or their pockets.

No drums to stun their Mother’s ear,
Nor swords to make their sisters fear;
But pretty books to store their mind
With knowledge of each various kind.

But where I found the children naughty,
In manners rude, in temper haughty,
Thankless to parents, liars, swearers,
Boxers, or cheats, or base tale-bearers,

I left a long, black, birchen rod,
Such as the dread command of God
Directs a Parent’s hand to use
When virtue’s path his sons refuse.

Xmas Heroes – Gayla Peevey

Xmas Heroes – Gayla Peevey

The 1950’s were a great time to be a kid. In the wake of the Second World War, America was expressing a new sense of optimism and can-do attitude. Industry that had ramped up to facilitate the war effort was converting to a peacetime footing. Jobs that had been so scarce in the Great Depression that preceded the war were now plentiful and looking for returning veterans to fill them. This bounty led to new families in new houses starting a Baby Boom. As these kids began to mature, popular culture began to accommodate this new and highly valuable demographic.

TV shows like “Lassie”, “Leave it to Beaver” and “Howdy Doody” were created to celebrate the abundance of children in the country and to idealize family life and joyous childhood. Since Christmas had been increasingly focusing on childhood, it’s only natural that Christmas would be tremendously child-focused in the Boom era. Wonderful classic toys like the Daisy Model 1938 Red Ryder youth BB gun that Ralphie so desires in “A Christmas Story” and the Radio Flyer wagon became cultural legends.

With all the focus on children, Columbia Records signed a precocious singer from Oklahoma to sing a variety of novelty songs. Aged 10 years old, the very talented Ms Peevey debuted with the song “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas”. Naturally, it was a hit. Because it caught on and because Gayla was a local talent, the Oklahoma City Zoo started a fundraising campaign to get her a live hippo for Christmas in 1953. They had recently completed a fundraiser with children putting pennies in jars to buy the zoo an elephant, so they thought they might be able to do the same for a hippopotamus. They succeeded. Gayla was presented with a baby hippo named Matilda who she donated to the zoo. Matilda lived until 1998.

Gayla performed a variety of other comical holiday hits like this one.

Gayla’s performances represented the way that children were seen in the fifties. Kids were cute, optimistic and silly. It was a time to believe that all things were possible and that society at large was set up to make that happen.

In 1959, she changed labels and began recording under the name Jamie Horton. She moved on with her life after age 19 when she married her husband, Cliff. She graduated San Diego State University and became a teacher, advertising executive, wife, mom and proud grandmother.

Even today, Gayla is the embodiment of everything that is great about being an American. Gayla is a wonderful living Christmas legend and the season is that much more enjoyable because of her music and joyous attitude.

Ms. Peevey talks about her experiences with the song that launched her to childhood fame.
The Oklahoma City Zoo shares in a sing-along with Gayla Peevey by video conference

Xmas Heroes – Francis Pharcellus Church

Xmas Heroes – Francis Pharcellus Church

A child asked a question that is of concern to so many children at one time or another. Virginia O’Hanlon asked her father, who referred her to their favorite newspaper. The family had often written to the editorial staff of the New York Sun to have matters clarified. Editor Frank Pharcellus Church took up the momentous task of addressing this most vexing of childhood dilemmas.

Frank was a graduate of Columbia College of Columbia University and a Civil War correspondent. In the post-war period, he saw a trend of losing hope and faith in the wake of great suffering. We commend him on his contribution to Christmas spirit and his kindness to Virginia in particular.

Here is the famous inquiry and the wonderful editorial response:

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

VIRGINIA O’HANLON.
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Xmas Heroes – Clement Clarke Moore

Xmas Heroes – Clement Clarke Moore

Clement Clarke MooreAfter a sleigh ride from Greenwich Village in 1822 and struck with the holiday spirit, the staid professor of classics and religious studies at the General Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church was inspired to write a bit of entertainment entitled “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas” for his kids.

Clement Clarke Moore was a serious academic. He earned his Bachelor of Arts and Master’s Degrees from Columbia University in 1798 and penned the two-volume work entitled A Compendious Lexicon of the Hebrew Language in 1809. This scholarly work and his donation of a portion of his inherited estate secured his position as a professor at the newly created seminary in 1820. He held this position proudly until 1850. From 1840, he also served as a board member for the New York Institution for the Blind.

Night Before Christmas (1888 book cover)The poem he wrote for his kids was a personal affair to him. He was advised to share it, but he didn’t want to diminish his standing as a serious professor. In 1823, a family friend submitted the poem to be published anonymously at the Troy Sentinel 150 miles away in Troy, NY. The poem was reprinted annually and eventually included in The New-York Book of Poetry in 1837 where it was officially attributed to Moore. Moore finally relented to accept authorship when he also included it in his 1844 anthology, Poems. A Visit from St. Nicholas was printed in booklet form repeatedly over the years.

Moore was influenced by the Dutch settlers of New York in his writing of the poem. The Dutch Sinter Klaas was actually based more directly on the historical Bishop Nicholas of Myra and typically depicted as a tall, stately figure. Moore collected ideas from Washington Irving’s 1809 Knickerbocker History and an 1821 poem called “The Children’s Friend” as well as the stout Dutch sleigh driver who had delivered him home from his cousin’s house on Christmas Eve of 1822. The poem “The Children’s Friend” had vaguely mentioned Santa’s reindeer, but Moore specified eight and named each of them. The poem had so captured the creative imagination and transformed the character of Santa that it was frequently published in booklets and became the topic of short films once the movie camera was invented by Edison in 1889 in the form of the Strip Kinetograph. Edison directed “The Night Before Christmas” in 1905. Watch it below:

Parallel Santas

Parallel Santas

People love to tell stories at Christmastime, particularly about Santa. While we know that the origin of Santa is derived from Saint Nicholas of Myra, people just love telling alternate tales of where Santa came from. Here are some of my all-time favorite stories of where Santa came from.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

This Rankin & Bass classic introduced us to the origin of Santa independently of his historical and mythological forebears. A baby is left at the doorstep of the Burgomeister Meisterburger. The grumpy old autocrat tells his henchman to take the baby to the orphanage, but a blustery winter wind whisks the baby away to the doorstep of the Kringle family. The stop animation special leads us through a number of twists and turns until Santa is a fully fleshed out character with a brand new origin. Classic family fun!

Santa Claus: The Movie

This charming movie with Dudley Moore had Santa and his wife as a kind, elderly couple who were on their way to deliver gifts to the extended family. They succumbed to winter weather and joined a colony of elves to continue their toymaking in perpetuity. It’s a bit grim, but it does explain why Santa and his wife seem to be immortal.

Another common theme in parallel Santa origins is that it is a title that is passed from one person to the next. Here are some of my favorite stories that follow this angle.

The Santa Clause

Tim Allen is a divorced dad trying to connect with his son on Christmas Eve. When Santa falls off of his roof, the red suit becomes his destiny. This is such a funny movie. I look forward to watching it every single year. The transformation from self-absorbed corporate hack to the living symbol of generosity and holiday spirit is wonderful to watch.

Ernest Saves Christmas

Jim Varney is Ernest P. Worrell in this quirky holiday treat. Ernest is a taxi driver who picks up Santa from the airport. Santa has come to Orlando, Florida to pass the torch to another man before the magic leaves him entirely and cancels Christmas forever. Ernest’s zany behavior is a treat, as always. I always keep this on my Christmas playlist to ensure I get a smile for the holidays.

These stories and others bring a new wrinkle to the origin of Santa Claus and that much more magic to the holiday season. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. If you know of other good Santa origins, please let me know in the comments!

Christmas Eve and National Eggnog Day

Christmas Eve and National Eggnog Day

Tonight is the big night! The man in the red suit is making his deliveries tonight so get those cookies ready and have a toasty warm mug of eggnog to help you get to sleep.

Christmas Eve

Up on the rooftop Christmas Eve is a wonderful time for my family. My wife sets the nativity scene figures throughout the house at the beginning of Advent. Mary and Joseph travel towards the manger. The Magi follow the star. On Christmas Eve, Mary and Joseph have reached the manger and the shepherds are nearby.

We go to the church service in the evening and come home to watch a holiday movie like It’s a Wonderful Life. Everyone goes to bed so Santa can come and do his thing. We enjoy the religious and secular aspects of the holiday together as a family. We hope you do, too.

National Eggnog Day

Eggnog is a splendid, creamy holiday beverage. I love eggnog served warm with a dusting of nutmeg and cinnamon.

Some people like their eggnog spiked with bourbon, brandy or rum. I don’t care for booze, so I just take my eggnog with a dash of spice and maybe some whipped cream.

Eggnog

Click the picture for Alton Brown’s festive eggnog recipe

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