Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

There are many things that I have learned, or at least remember one more time, by looking through some of the columns that I have written at Christmas time:

One of the worse things about the week after Christmas is seeing that almost all of the gifts that you purchased are now on sale.

You may not care (maybe because it is too late to send a card now) but lost in the shuffle between Christmas and New Year’s is Woodrow Wilson’s birthday on Dec. 28.

Did you know that there are no plums in plum pudding?*

I haven’t had cookies and milk for a bedtime snack on Christmas Eve since the kids have grown up.

This is the time of year that you start wearing lots of different ties — perhaps two a day if possible — so everyone will be convinced that you don’t need any more.

Almost every advertised price this holiday season, regardless of how lofty it may appear to us, is preceded by the word “ONLY.”

Why is there always some kind of a bill mixed in with the last of the Christmas cards?

How much time do we spend each year before Christmas trying to find the end of the Scotch tape roll?

Gift giving became a tradition in 1857.

Santa Claus is the American adaptation of St. Nicholas, a legendary European figure who brings presents to children on Christmas Eve. The name Santa Claus is derived from the Dutch “Sinter Klass.”

‘Tis the season to realize how wonderful it would be if our world could fulfill the eternal wish of the season —“Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”

And this, from one of the late Grace Lynch’s Christmas columns: “The old song says that Christmas comes but once a year, yet with it comes a flood of Christmases long gone by.”

*No plums in plum pudding?

Despite its name, plum pudding contains no actual plums due to the pre-Victorian use of the word “plums” as a term for raisins or other fruits.

The pudding is composed of many dried fruits and is held together by eggs and suet, sometimes moistened by treacle or molasses. It is flavored with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and other spices.

The pudding, also known as “Christmas Pudding,” is traditionally served on Christmas Day as part of the Christmas dinner.  It has its origins in medieval England.

The pudding is aged for a month or even a year. It can age for a long time because it has so much alcohol in it and never spoils. The mixture can be moistened with the juice of citrus fruits, brandy and other alcohol.

Some recipes call for dark beers such as mild, stout or porter.

Cheers!

Oh, Christmas Tree!

President Franklin Pierce had the first Christmas tree in the White House in 1856. Thomas Edison’s assistants came up with the idea of electric lights for Christmas trees. President Theodore Roosevelt banned Christmas trees from the White House for environmental reasons.

In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge started the National Christmas tree lighting ceremony now held every year on the White House lawn.

The tree became a temporary victim of World War II and in 1941 there were fears it wouldn’t be lit due to post-Pearl Harbor security concern, but it was eventually lit.

The 1942 tree wasn’t lit at all to conserve power and to adhere to wartime restrictions. The tree wasn’t relit until after the war.

In 1948, President Truman lit the tree by remote control from his home in Missouri. The tree was also lit by remote control in 1955 after President Eisenhower suffered a heart attack.

In 1963, the National Christmas tree wasn’t lit until Dec. 22 because of a national 30-day period of mourning following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

In 1979, the National Christmas tree wasn’t lit except for the top ornament.

There is a story behind the absence of lights on the tree in 1979. When President Carter’s daughter, Amy, went to light the tree only the star on top of the tree lit up.  President Carter told the crowd that it would remain that way until the hostages were freed.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition began in in 1933.

A total of 77 million Christmas trees are planted each year, and 34 to 36 million Christmas trees are sold each year.

… Roy Hodge

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