item 1 >>> For several Christmases back in the 1960s, my family of 7 would go caroling to people we knew…friends, Godparents, even teachers. Yes, I remember grousing about the practice sessions my parents would organize to get the harmonies in shape. But being out in the frosty air, in front of people’s houses, with all the lights, in our boots and mittens, singing our hearts out…there was nothing like it in this world, as I now recall.  Amen.

item 2 >>> I mentioned Joan Blondell on Stolf’s Blog 12/23…what fascinates me is how beautiful some of these actresses were in their younger days…ones that we Baby Boomers became familiar with only when they were older. She died on Christmas, 1979.  And see also Stolf’s blog for 11/25…stolf.wordpress.com

item 3 >>>  Yuletide Myth #10…The 12 Days of Christmas include Christmas Day. Sure seems like they should, doesn’t it, but they don’t. The simple reason is this: the 12th Day of Christmas is the Epiphany, Jan. 6th, sometimes called “Little Christmas.” If you count back the days and include Christmas Day, you get 13 days, not 12. The idea in olden times was that the 12 Days of Christmas were a time of celebration, merry-making, and especially on the Epiphany, playing practical jokes. These activities were inappropriate to the holiness and solemnity of Christmas Day itself, so the revelry started the next day, St. Stephen’s Day, Dec. 26.

What throws people off today is the celebration of Twelfth Night on the night of Jan. 5, the eve of the Epiphany. After all, what comes after the 12th Night? The 13th Day, and since there are only 12 Days of Christmas, the Epiphany can’t be one of them. Counting back then, the First Day would be Christmas itself. What’s being forgotten is this: the 24-hour calendar day used to be reckoned differently than it is today…it didn’t start at midnight, but rather approximately 6 hours earlier, at sundown the previous day. The “day” ended when people went to bed, and by default that’s when the next day began.

So by the old system, the 12th Night was not followed by the 13th Day, but by the 12th Day! Thus Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were the same day, not 2 consecutive days, as were New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. That’s why New Year’s Eve is sometimes called “First Night,” but of course that’s the first of 365 days, not the 12.

item 4 >>> …well, except in the Great White North, where it’s Christmas, Christmas Eve, New Years, New Years Eve, Boxing Day (aka Wrestling Day), 2 Saturdays and Sundays, and the remaining Mystery Days…

item 5 >>> Souls who were also born on Christmas…and these have been collected over the years, so kindly forgive that they’re not alphabetical…Anwar Sadat, Clara Barton, Conrad Hilton, Sir Isaac Newton, Humphrey Bogart, Cab Calloway, Annie Lennox, Carl Rove, Jimmy Buffett, Noel Redding, Rod Serling, Mary “Sissy” Spacek, Larry Csonka, Irish McCalla, O’Kelly Isley, Kenny Stabler, Nellie Fox, Gary Sandy, Barbara Mandrell, Rickey Henderson, Steve Wariner, B-movie legend Dick Miller, Carlos Castaneda, Manny Trillo, Helena Rubinstein, Tony Martin, Clark Clifford, Pete Rugolo, and believe it or not, Robert Ripley!

item 6 >>> And not to harsh your holiday buzz, but several whom you may see included on lists, but definitely weren’t Christmas Babies…Alice Cooper, Amy Grant, Little Richard, and Chris Chambliss. Phil Spector is a special case, see Deep Fried Hoodsie Cups for 12/26.

item 7 >>> Here are the fluorescent Christmas tree lights Sylvania put out in 1945. See today’s Wicked Ballsy for a vintage advertisement. They weren’t popular, as they weren’t as bright as regular lights…more of a subtle effect, but ahead of their time nonetheless. Several years ago, I showed the ad to my Dad, a lifelong employee of Sylvania’s Lighting Division…retired now, he was in Production and Inventory Control. He went and got an old shoe-box, and fished a couple of them out! Did they still work? We tried plugging them in…didn’t fit…but Dad had an adaptor socket (shoulda known!)…and yup, fired up like a charm, after all those years!

item 8 >>> Those of you familiar with the Canadian Football League might have wondered why 2 teams had the same nickname, albeit spelled slightly differently: the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Ottawa Rough Riders, who folded in 1996. I believe this is unique among sports leagues, and the explanation goes back to the history of the CFL…it was once 2 separate leagues! They were called the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union and the Western Interprovincial Football Union, and they didn’t play each other except for the Grey Cup. The 2 leagues merged in 1956, began a limited interlocking schedule in 1961, and weren’t fully united until 1981. Not surprisingly, the 2 teams were often called the Eastern Riders and the Western Riders.

item 9 >>> And if you ever thought about the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ nickname…after WWII, the 2 Hamilton teams merged, the Tigers and the Wildcats. It had to be something like that, right? BTW, the Ottawa team was resurrected in 2002 as the Renegades, but they suspended play in 2006, altho they never actually folded. Yet another Ottawa franchise it set to start in 2013…whether Rough Riders, Renegades, or something else remains to be seen.

item 10 >>> Tales of Christmases past…in 1995, a family in Kiln Creek, Virginia, a suburb of Newport News, ran afoul of their neighbors by putting up a 2-foot wreath made of crushed beer cans. One of the daughters was an artist, and she searched around for unusual and distinctive labels and brands. Apparently it just looked all silver and sparkly, especially when lit up at night, on the garage, with a pretty red bow. But the Homeowners Association nixed it…stating for the record, “We also don’t allow purple houses.”

Wicked Ballsy

This and lots more can be found at http://www.oldchristmastreelights.com.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a shameless plug…

Podcasts at http://stolfpod.podbean.com and   http://thewholething.podbean.com

Daily blogs at http://stolf.wordpress.com and  https://deepfriedhoodsiecups.wordpress.com

More bloggage at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com and  http://www.examiner.com/retro-pop-culture-in-watertown/mark-john-astolfi

Resume and audio samples at http://home.rr.com/mastolfi

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