nostalgic for 1950s Christmas
The Online Magazine
Christmas in the 50s
December 2015, Volume 1, Issue 1

1. Dragnet's Christmas Story
2. Christmas Songs From the 50s
3. Celebrating Christmas in the 50s
4. Nostalgia Jigsaw Puzzle

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1. Dragnet's Christmas Story
"The Big Little Jesus" (1953) is the only episode in the series' that was not based on an LAPD incident (in actuality, from the files of the San Francisco Police Department) and the only episode remade in 1967, with several of the main characters played by the same actors. The 1967 remake was titled "The Christmas Story."

Joe Friday and Frank Smith are called to investigate a case of Baby Jesus theft at Old Mission Plaza Church which has a large Hispanic congregation. The Priest, Father Xavier Rojas, explains that a statue of the infant Jesus Christ is missing from the church's Nativity scene. Though the statue is of little financial value, it would be very disheartening to the congregation if the statue were missing at Christmas Mass. However, as the theft occurred on Christmas Eve, that leaves less than 24 hours for Friday and Smith to locate the statue and recover it. In spite of their best efforts, Friday and Gannon cannot locate the statue and come to the church to give Father Rojas the bad news when a young boy, Paco Mendoza, comes in with the statue on a toy wagon. Paco explains to the Father that he'd prayed that he'd receive a wagon on Christmas and if he were given it, he'd give the infant Jesus the first ride. Needless to say, no charges are pressed. After, as Father Rojas says, "Paco's family. They're poor." Friday replies, "Are they, Father?"
 See the show on Youtube (run time: 26:46) - Click Here

2. Christmas Songs From the 50s
The Christmas songs of the 1950s were distinctly different from the music of the previous decades. Vocal driven pop songs replaced the sound of the 1940s big bands, although orchestras were often used to back up the vocalists. Four Christmas songs stand out.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus · 1952
Originally recorded by Jimmy Boyd, on July 15, 1952 when he was 13 years old, this song reached No. 1 on the Billboard pop singles chart in December 1952, and on the Cash Box chart at the beginning of the following year. It later reached Number 3 in the UK Charts when issued there in November 1953. Interestingly, the song was originally commissioned by Saks Fifth Avenue to promote the store's Christmas card.
Boyd's record was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church in Boston when it was released on the grounds that it mixed kissing with Christmas, ignoring the fact that mistletoe, under which many couples kiss, is traditionally hung in many homes during the Christmas season. Boyd was photographed meeting with the Archdiocese to explain the song. After the meeting, the ban was lifted.
Click to Hear

(There's No Place Like) Home For The Holidays · 1954
The music was composed by Robert Allen, while the lyrics were written by Al Stillman. The song was published in 1954. The best-known recordings were made by Perry Como, who recorded the song twice. The first recording, done on November 16, 1954, was released as a single for Christmas, 1954.

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree · 1956
"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" is a Christmas song written by Johnny Marks and recorded by Brenda Lee in 1958. Despite her mature-sounding voice, Lee recorded this song when she was only thirteen years old. The song's declaration of a rock and roll sound notwithstanding, its instrumentation also fits the country music genre, which Brenda Lee more fully embraced as her career evolved. The recording features Grady Martin's ringing guitar and Boots Randolph's swinging solo sax break. Veteran session player Buddy Harman is the drummer.
Click to Hear

Jingle Bell Rock · 1957
Originally recorded by Bobby Helms in 1957, "Jingle Bell Rock" has been performed by many artists, but Helms' version is the best known. The song's title and some of its lyrics are a parody of the old Christmas standard, "Jingle Bells." It makes brief references to other popular songs of the 1950s, such as "Rock Around the Clock," and mentions going to a "Jingle hop." An electric guitar played by Hank Garland can be heard playing the first notes of the chorus of "Jingle Bells."

3. Celebrating Christmas in the 50s
Many people look fondly back on the Christmases of 1950s, portrayed in movies like White Christmas, as a time of newly created traditions. Many of the traditions we associate with Christmas today started during those years. Hanukkah, previously a minor celebration, emerged as a major holiday during that time. Some of the things about those times have been improved upon. (Remember those strings of Christmas tree lights where, if one went out, the whole string was out?)
Post World War II, many Americans enjoyed an increased income and standard of living thanks to the GI bill and affordable housing. This led to a boost in consumer spending, allowing for new traditions to emerge with a new class of consumers. Larger houses in the suburbs had more land and more space in the home for material goods. In addition to the creation of a large toy industry, other industries began to emerge to create new traditions. Many of these traditions related to material culture from the 1950s continue to exist today.


4. Nostalgia Jigsaw Puzzle
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Copyright, Jim Bennett 2015