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My ABCs of Christmas

Well, everyone, we made it to Christmas!  What a fun month it's been building the excitement up for the big day!  Much like Halloween, I've decided to do a fun little ABC's of Christmas, with the help of my lovely wife, Lauren!  You can read that Halloween feature HERE, by the way.

Without further ado, our Christmas ABC list for 2020:

A - Anise Cookies  (Lauren)  Every Christmas, my Grandma would make them, and I Specifically remember them laying out on the table as she put them into Christmas tins.  I now make them every year, and Jeff's Dad loves them.

B - Bubble Lights  When I was very young, my Dad had a strand of the old-style bubble lights that would heat up a liquid inside a glass tube, causing the liquid to bubble.  We were always told to be careful around them and to not leave the lights on the tree long because the bulbs could get very hot and maybe start a fire... but I secretly would take apart the bulb and hold the little glass tube in my tiny child-sized hands to feel it's warmth.  Oh, I was a rebel!  

C - Clark W. Griswold  What Christmas would be complete in my house without Christmas Vacation?  We often watch "Christmas Vacation" at least 15 times a season.  We have the DVD, the BluRay, and it's recorded on our DVR, but especially this year, Lauren and I must have watched the Griswold's at least once a day since Thanksgiving.  Often we throw the DVR'd version on while we drift off to sleep, and this year it seems like it's every night, which is just A-OK in my book.

D - Darlene Love "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"  One of my favorite Christmas songs, it's made all the more special by appearing in "Goodfellas" when Jimmy is growing paranoid about the Lufthansa Heist.  

E - Eve (as in Christmas Eve)  As I grew into an adult, I've learned to enjoy Christmas Eve much more than Christmas Day.  On Christmas Eve, as a kid, we'd go to the evening candlelight church service and then head over to my Uncle's for snacks and one present.  We'd then head home, looking at people's Christmas lights along the way before going to bed, hoping for Santa Claus to arrive quickly.  As I got older, we stopped going to my Uncle's, and we'd go right from church to riding around with my other Uncle looking at lights.   This was often better because we'd start earlier, and many people were still lit up for the night.  Now that we're married, we have dinner with our parents at an Italian restaurant and return home for a nice quiet evening.  Now that we have a daughter, I'm very excited to see how our traditions unfold.

F - Food and Fellowship Christmas Day, once the presents were opened, was always about food and fellowship with our family.  As a kid, my Mom usually did the cooking, and we had several people over to the house.  A turkey, ham, or occasionally beef was the meal of the day.  For the past decade or so, Lauren has made Filet Mignon and Lasagna, along with all the side dishes that go with such meals.  De-lish!

G - Gifts  Ok, this is an easy throw away one.  Who doesn't like gifts on Christmas?  The older I get, the more I seem to buy for myself than others.

H - Hallmark Movies  Every year, Lauren and I sit down and watch several Hallmark movies.  We have a list of favorites we MUST watch, especially the older Candace Cameron ones like "Christmas Under Wraps" or "A Christmas Detour."  The newer Hallmark ones without a big name attached to it (Cameron, Winnie Cooper, or Lacey Chabert) just fall flat for us, though, and don't hook our interest.

I - "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" by Johnny Mathis I believe I first heard this song in Home Alone 2, or at least that I can recall.  Either way, this song is the one that I begin to sing to myself as the weather starts to turn cold, the Christmas decorations hit the stores, and I begin to get that excitement that builds every year.  Maybe not my favorite song, but certainly a classic that helps make (and kick-off) the season right!

J - Joy Many words are used during the Christmas season:  Peace, Noel, Love, and Joy.  Joy has always been my favorite.  To me, it means sheer, pure, unfiltered happiness.  It means love.  I like the word "Joy" so much, we may have used it as a name for our daughter!

K - Kringle What list would be complete without including old Kris Kringle?  

L - Lights One of my favorite things growing up was driving around several times in the final days before Christmas and enjoying everyone's Christmas lights.  I think the more colorful and gaudier, the better.  Lauren prefers simple, classic, and white.  What do you prefer?  

M - M&M's (Lauren) - The red and green M&M's were always a sign Christmas was on its way, and Santa was coming to bring me presents!  The classic Christmas commercial of the little M&M's bumping into Santa Claus and discovering. 

N - NHL 1994 for PC  We got a home computer pretty early, around 1992.  I know that sounds silly these days when even 5-year-olds have smartphones, but in 1992, it was pretty rare for people to have a computer in their home.  We had an "Ambra," which is among the many startups that used the new IBM software.  It was one of the cheaper ones (while I'm sure still very expensive) and didn't have much memory.  For Christmas in 1993, my brother and I got "NHL 1994," which had all sorts of new General Manager features like trades, drafts, and more.  Unfortunately, our Ambra couldn't run the game with its low memory and slow processor, and we were devastated.  My parents got my uncle, an IT guy, to upgrade the computer the best he could so the game would run most of its features, and that was good enough for us.  We had so much fun running our own fantasy league through that game that my brother and I would keep a notebook next to the computer to keep our trades and draft picks up-to-date.

O - Orange Cookies Gramps favorite during Grandma's bake-a-thons.  You can read about Grandma's bake-a-thon more HERE in Christmas Memories from last year.  

P - Peanut Clusters  One of my favorite Christmas snacks would be the chocolate Peanut Clusters my Granny would make.  Simply enough, you just take a bag full of chocolate chips and mix it with a container of party peanuts and melt it together.  After the chocolate cooled and stiffened, she'd leave them on the back porch in a big round white Tupperware container to freeze up.  

Q - Quality Time with Family  Ok, another cop-out, but Q is tough!  See "F" for this one!  

R - Rudolph (Lauren) This is one of my favorite Christmas specials of the year.  The original Rankin-Bass classic is one of my must watches.  This is also one of Jeff's least favorites.

S - SANTA!  WE LOVE YOU, SANTA!   One year, after Christmas Eve service, my Uncle Bob and I drove around looking at Christmas lights as we usually did.  My brother didn't join us this year, as he went through a phase when he was about 19 or 20 that he was too cool to hang out with any of his family.  Around 10 or 11 pm, we were about to head home when Bob suggested we enter a neighborhood on the other side of town I had never been in before.  Most everyone had already turned their lights out for the night, but some were still lit when suddenly we saw a man dressed up as Santa Claus walking through someone's front lawn.  Totally out of character for my Uncle, he rolled down his window and YELLED at the top of his lungs, "SANTA!  WE LOVE YOU SANTA!  SANTAAAAA!" and we drove on.  I don't even know where those houses were anymore, but I'll never forget that moment.

T - TNT/TBS A Christmas Story Marathon This one doesn't need an introduction, as I'm sure anyone reading this has watched part of this marathon.  I recently wrote a piece on it, so CLICK HERE TO READ IT!

U - Under The Tree What was better when you were a kid than when you woke up in the morning and went running out to the Christmas tree to see what Santa left for you?  

V - Very Mixed Up Christmas One of our favorite Hallmark movies, which features Alicia Witt, is on our must-watch list every year.  I schedule it for the DVR immediately, and it usually gets watched more than once per season.

W "Wish For Wings That Work" (Lauren) This little Christmas special says "Classic 90s" to me.  I used to watch this one on TV when it would air around Christmas time.  When we later got married, we purchased the DVD so we could watch it every year since it's no longer on TV.

X - Xanta Claus The WWF's version of the anti-Santa Claus, Xanta (Balls Mahoney), only lasted a few short months.  You can read more about him by clicking HERE in my piece from Christmas of 2019 on when Pro Wrestling and Christmas Collide!  

Y - Yule Log We're lucky enough to have grown up in the New York area where WPIX was a staple in our households.  That channel's greatness for other reasons aside, every year, the WPIX Channel 11 Yule Log would broadcast it's soothing, crackling fireplace along with classic Christmas music that we'd open presents to every year.  Then, around 11 or noon, they'd turn off the Yule Log and play Laurel and Hardy's Babes in Toyland/March of the Wooden Soldiers.  

Z - Zone, as in Twilight Zone  I know this is a Christmas list, but we look forward to the Twilight Zone New Year's marathon on SyFy Network as soon as Christmas is over every year.  I hope to have a feature out about my Top 10 Twilight Zone episodes this year to coincide with the marathon, so be on the lookout for it!

Thank you for stopping by Yester Year Retro this Christmas and Holiday Season!  We wish you the Happiest of Holidays, the Merriest of Christmases, and a Happy and Healthy New Year!!!!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!