Christmas traditions. Everyone has something they remember from their childhood that really symbolizes the Christmas holidays. It could be a food, a specific decoration, perhaps even a smell. I have several “triggers” of the holiday season and at times my husband and kids believe me to be crazy, but hey, it’s the holiday season.
Here’s some holiday history mixed in with some Christmas crazy. The idea of our modern Santa came from a combination of the description in the 1823 poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and the political cartoonist Thomas Nast. Coke commercialized him and that’s how we got the image of Santa today. My image of Santa is a little closer to home. It had to have been 1973 and we went to the neighbor community center for a visit with Santa. When I got to sit on his lap I noticed Santa had the same smell of Piels Beer and Tareyton cigarettes as my Pap— and even looked a little like him too.
On decorations, many people don’t realize that before we had resin decorations that mimicked flowers, wood products or snow decorations were made of plastic. In fact, when people received flowers more then likely they were plastic. In the post war between the years 1946 to 1964, flowers, greenery, holly and mistletoe were mass produced and sold everywhere from John Wanamakers to Woolworth’s. My Italian grandmother being first generation, never really had much of a Christmas until she married my Pap. Their first Christmas after they were married they took the train into Philadelphia to Wanamakers for decorations and every year they would put them out. My favorite was the mistletoe ball they would hang from the archway. It was really the smell of the plastic I liked. The mistletoe ball is long gone but vintage plastic decorations take me back to whisker kisses from my pap.
My family has their own traditions these days. Like decorating the family tree at Thanksgiving and a very large nutcracker my kids named “Turd Ferguson”. Remember to keep crazy in Christmas whenever you can.