- Published on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 11:16
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When it comes to my generation, which grew up with television in the 1960’s and 70’s, all sorts of media generated images come with thoughts of Christmas.
What do people think of when they think of Christmas? For many of us, the first reaction is often about its religious significance. Others are likely to think about Christmas trees, presents, and good food. Just the thought of my grandmother’s chocolate chess pie, a true southern delight, makes me hungry.
Some recollections are more bittersweet. My Dad’s ship during World War II, and this wasn’t your average Navy vessel, occasionally played music over the ship’s intercom. It was the captain’s idea and the crew seemed to enjoy it. However, he drew the line when it came to playing Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.” Some of the toughest sailors on the ship started crying. From then on they had to stick to “Jingle Bells.” Irving Berlin’s White’s Christmas, according to the Guinness book of records, is the best-selling single recording in history.
When it comes to my generation, which grew up with television in the 1960’s and 70’s, all sorts of media generated images come with thoughts of Christmas. It can be argued that many of these are commercial and have little to do with the importance of the celebration. Perhaps, but they are still a part of many of my generation’s Christmas time memories.
That’s even true for the advertisements. If I didn’t see the animation of Santa Claus riding his Norelco electric shaver through the snow it wouldn’t be Christmas. Norelco has been using this imagery since 1962 and this year, rather than creating a new Santa riding a new and improved electric shaver, the company is planning a medley of these ads covering the past 50 years of its various incarnations.
Another product of this era are the animated TV specials. Several, though nearly fifty years old, run every year, and for many of us they are still an essential part of the holidays. “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” which was first produced for the GE Fantasy Hour in 1964, is one of the most famous. I remember watching its first airing.
“Frosty the Snowman,” another favorite, introduced by Jimmy Durante, like Rudolph, is in the same league.
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” had its first run in 1965 and features an endearing monologue by one of the Peanuts characters, Linus, on the meaning of Christmas. Alas, at the time, it was criticized for being “too religious.” But, save for a little digital enhancement and restoration, these programs haven’t changed at all over the past five decades.
Movies are another part of these Christmastime memories. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is one of the mainstays with Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey. I can name all of the characters. And I have seen “White Christmas,” with Bing Crosby and Danny Kay so many times that I know the words to most of the songs.
Charles Dickens’ “a Christmas Carol,” first published in 1846 as a newspaper serial and given credit for reviving Christmas as a Holiday, has been made into seven motion pictures.
Many might consider these recollections trite and unimportant. But, when I recall a cousin of mine, when he was eight years old, telling me the entire Rudolph story, which he had just seen on TV, as if it was brand new, all I could do was smile.