Happy Holidays from everyone at A Slice of Orange. We hope you day is calm, stress, and drama free.
To help with that, please enjoy this repeat column Janet Lynn and Will Zeilinger wrote for the 2018 Holidays.
I thought it would be nice to listen to some of the music that we still hear during the Christmas Holidays. I’ve included the links for your “waltz down memory lane”. Here are the top ten Christmas hits in the1950s.
(In chronological order of release)
Home for the Holidays was written by Al Stillman and Robert Allen. It was a hit in 1955, but has also been recorded by numerous other artists. Listen on YouTube
In 1956, Bing Crosby’s version was released as a single. Longfellow’s poem resulted when his personal peace was shaken. His second wife of 18 years was tragically burned in a fire, leaving him a widower of six children. Soon after, Longfellow’s oldest son, Charles Appleton Longfellow, joined the Union Army, he was severely wounded in the battle. He wrote the poem December,1863. The lyrics were by Johnny Marks and John Baptiste Calkin. Listen on YouTube
Also known as “Nothing for Christmas,” Nuttin’ for Christmas was a novelty Christmas song written by Sid Tepper and Roy C. Bennett. It became a hit during the 1955 Christmas season when it appeared in Billboard’s pop charts by five different artists. The highest-charting of the five recordings was released by Art Mooney and His Orchestra, with six-year-old Barry Gordon as lead vocalist. Listen on YouTube
Mary’s Boy Child a 1956 Christmas song, written by Jester Hairston. It is widely performed as a Christmas carol. Harry Belafonte heard the song being performed by a choir and sought permission to record it. It was recorded for his album An Evening with Belafonte. Listen on YouTube
The song was written and performed by Bobby Helms in 1957 and has received frequent airplay during every Christmas season since. The song has hit the Billboard charts a record six times since its original release. Listen on YouTube
A Blue Christmas was written by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson and most famously performed by Elvis Presley. Elvis Presley cemented the status of Blue Christmas as a rock-and-roll holiday classic by recording it for his 1957 LP Elvis’ Christmas Album. Listen on YouTube
Run Rudolph Run was written by Johnny Marks and Marvin Brodie. The song was first recorded by Berry in 1958 released as a single. Listen on YouTube
Written by Johnny Marks and recorded by Brenda Lee in 1958, Rocking Around the Christmas Tree was a rockabilly/rock-and-roll flavored Christmas tune. While it was ignored in its first two seasons, the song hit #16 on the Billboard pop chart during the Christmas season of 1960. Eight million copies were sold the first thirty years. Listen on YouTube
The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) is a Christmas song written by Ross Bagdasarian Sr. (a.k.a. David Seville) in 1958. Bagdasarian sang and recorded the song, varying the tape speeds to produce high-pitched “chipmunk” voices for the chipmunks: Alvin, Simon, and Theodore. Listen on YouTube
This song was originally called Carol of the Drums, a Czech folksong which Katherine Davis translated to English in 1941. When the Twentieth-Century Fox Records label contracted Simeone to make a Christmas album in 1958, he assembled a group he called The Harry Simeone Chorale and searched for recording material. Simeone changed the title to The Little Drummer Boy. Listen on YouTube
I’m exhausted. I stayed up till 10 a.m. PDT this morning promoting Christmas Once Again on my pub date. It was a blast. My publisher, my editor were right there with me, along with bloggers and fans.
We tweeted, I facebood’d, created Instagram stories. It was wild.
I have to admit, I was nervous. Will readers embrace a time when life was so different? I’ve poured my heart into this story about a time when there were no cell phones, so social media. Kate’s family (the heroine in my story), has a phone, but back then they had party lines. Everybody on the block shared the same phone line.
Neighbors Facebook’d over the fence while hanging out laundry to dry on the clothesline.
Newspapers were the 24-hour TV channels, coming out with Special Editions when important war news broke.
Soldiers and their girls wrote letters to each other. On paper. Words poured out by a lonely serviceman on an atoll in the Pacific or the cold, damp woods of the Ardennes in France. Girls sealed their letters with a kiss with Victory Red lipstick.
That is what I miss most about that time. Letters. Ink may fade, but the words are more powerful today than ever. There’s something cold and distant about an email. A digital fingerprint with printed words that look the same no matter who types them.
But a letter…now that has the personal signature.
The bold writing…looping letters…your sweetheart’s familiar scrawl that tugs your heart when he signs, ‘All my love.’
The smudge of dirty fingerprints that held a rifle and trudged over the beaches of Normandy to protect our country.
Coffee stains spilled from a tin cup when an enemy sniper surprised a young corporal.
Dried blood smeared on the envelope rushed into the mail pouch at the Red Cross camp by a wounded Marine.
And to the soldier, the most important signature of all: the scent of his sweetheart’s perfume. Every tired bone in his body, every aching muscle melt away. He can’t erase the horrors of war, but the lovely scent that is so distinctly hers takes him back home, if only for a few seconds. But it’s enough for him to keep fighting.
And promise he’ll come home to her.
It’s that world I write about in Christmas Once Again.
A journey you won’t forget.
I’ve spent Christmas where it snows . . . where it doesn’t . . . and where it’s truly a winter wonderland in the German Alps. The magic only gets stronger over the years for me because each Christmas I have another memory to hang on my tree.
Not a real tree, of course. But what I call my Christmas Look Back Tree.
I can pull up fun memories, funny moments, heartfelt goodbyes, and most of all the true spirit of the season. The star at the top of the tree shines year after year to give me hope.
For there’s nothing like the warm goodness and comforting embrace of family and friends to experience the real joy of the season. Like a cup of hot cocoa with cinnamon sticks that never gets empty.
So, why am I telling you this in August? It’s back to school time, vacation days lingering, time to BBQ and eat burgers and messy corn on the cob. Because I’ve been spending a lot of time recently in a little town in Pennsylvania called Posey Creek.
At Christmastime — during World War 2 in 1943.
I found that in order to create a time and place that existed only in my heart, I relived my own Christmases Pasts far removed from that time, but the sentiment, the hopes, dreams, and needs of my heroine come from a place within me. That I went back to my Christmas Look Back Tree to dig deep into my feelings to mold my heroine.
More on my story next time, but for this post I wanted to write about that even when we write about a time and place we never knew, it still comes from the heart, from our passion to tell a story that reflects a bit of us, even if we don’t know it at the time.
For me, it was Ma. My heroine’s mother. Her strong bond with her mother, her need to see her again (she goes back in time to reconnect with her mother who’s gone when the book opens), also reflects my desire to do the same.
You see, my mother passed away a few days before Christmas many years ago…
So, when we talk about my upcoming release, CHRISTMAS ONCE AGAIN, you’ll understand how joyous I felt writing those scenes when my heroine reconnects with her mother once again…if only for a little while.
News about Christmas Once Again release in October now up for pre-order:
I hope you had a good Thanksgiving yesterday. This holiday has always been one of my favorites, if only for the wonderful food. I do love a Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and all the trimmings, but turkey is a lot of work and yields a lot of leftovers, esp. when you only have four people at dinner. So this year we opted for beef roast with some of the trimmings: mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, garlic bread, and sauteed asparagus. Plus pumpkin pie, of course. It’s my theory that if the Pilgrims had had beef, there would have been no turkey dinner. They were English, after all!
And as a history freak, I love that so much of the traditional Thanksgiving food are native to the Americas.
The food supply expanded when Europeans “discovered” the New World. Prior to Columbus’s first voyage, there were no turkeys, potatoes, yams and sweet potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins, cranberries or maize, i.e. Indian corn, in the Middle Ages. There was a cereal grain called corn, but it’s more like wheat, not like the ears of corn we’re used to. Halloween Jack o’ Lanterns were originally made with turnips!
And there was no chocolate. Chocolate is native to the Americas, so the Spaniards were the first Europeans to encounter it. It became popular at court after the Spanish added sugar or honey to sweeten the natural bitterness. From there, chocolate spread through Europe in the 1600’s and grew into the international obsession is has become today.
Can you imagine a world without chocolate? I really wouldn’t like that at all!
What’s your favorite Thanksgiving treat?
Note: This is normally the day I blog about OCC/RWA online classes, but we will be dark in Dec. and Jan. Class blogs will resume in January.
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