Thursday, December 16, 2010

Vintage Christmas

For many years, my family would pile into the car and drive to my grandparents house for Christmas Eve.  It was always such a magical and fun time for everyone!  Below are some photos that I found from Christmas past.  Enjoy!

My grandparents getting cozy

Me, my brother and sister posing with my grandmother circa 1968

My grandparents with the grandkids, circa 1968

Christmas 1980.  Ugh...I still had braces at that time!

Christmas 1977...thankfully the Dorothy Hamill haircut was growing out by this time!

Christmas at my grandparents in the early 70s.  I know that I had a matching muff to match my coat and hat!

Casey, our family dog on a snowy Christmas holiday in the 90s.

My family at my Grandparents house Christmas 1982

Here is my dad at Christmas 1954

Casey and Blanche circa 1990.  Casey was terrified of Blanche...see the look of terror in her eyes as Blanche saunters by!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Sinatra Family Wish You A Merry Christmas!

Let's travel back back to 1968, and review the Sinatra Family Christmas album.  I love Sinatra, I really do, and I've always loved the Rat Pack (Christmas with the Rat Pack is one of my favorites of the season) but this album....what can I say about it....its not his best work.  Sap prevails over swing, despite Nelson Riddle's arrangements. Most of the songs are dull and uninspiring....even Frank cannot bring this up from the depths of awfulness.  Sadly, Frank Sr. is not prominently featured on this crapfest, which probably is a good thing...for him...certainly not us, the listener.  He only sings two of the tracks on his own, the rest have him and his family, or just his spawn singing.  I've always thought that Nancy Sinatra was a bit bland in her singing voice, and her sister Tina is no better, perhaps a bit worse, and lets face it, Frank Jr. is no Frank Sr.  Tina is mesmerizingly flat singing ''Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town'' and Frank Jr., doesn't fare much better with his rendition of Whatever Happened To Christmas? Whatever indeed...this is dreadful!  There is also a rat-pack inspired rendition of  The 12 Days of Christmas which just makes me yearn to hear the Rat Pack sing this instead. The cover is incredibly dated too...everyone wearing white, and Tina and Nancy with their signature 60s hairdos.

Rocky Mountain Christmas

I had picked up John Denver's Rocky Mountain Christmas ages ago, when I was a crazed 8-track collector.  It just wouldn't be Christmas without John Denver's wonderful voice, he's like a welcoming friend you have over for the holidays.  The songs are incredibly lovely, even the somewhat silly "Please, Daddy Don't Get Drunk This Christmas", which always makes me chuckle a bit. But my very favorite song is "Christmas For Cowboys". When you listen to the words, you can visualize John riding his horse looking up at the stars on a crisp cold Christmas night.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Favorite Holiday Albums

First, we have the Partridge Family Christmas Card, released in 1971.  Like most of the Partridge Family songs, the lead vocals are sung by David Cassidy, who played Keith Partridge in the show. The album also features one of the few Partridge Family recordings featuring Shirley Jones as the lead singer ("The Christmas Song").

A Partridge Family Christmas Card was the best-selling Christmas album in the United states during the Christmas season of 1971. Most of the songs are standard holiday fare, but my favorite has to be the original song My Christmas Card To You which in my opinion is one of the best Partridge Family songs ever recorded.  Most of the songs are bubbly and fun, but their version of Frosty The Snowman has to be one of the most sad and somber versions I've ever heard....but its still a great album as a whole.  I have this on CD as well as vinyl.  

Next up is James Brown's Funky Christmas.  I picked up a copy of this on CD back in 1995.  The first few times I listened to this album, I couldn't decide if it was interesting or just plain weird, and to be honest, the first year I didn't play it very much. I like unusual Christmas records and I love James Brown, but this just didn't seem to cut it as Christmas music, even for me.  Over the years though, it has grown on me, and I find I listen to this album more than any of the other Christmas albums I own.  It is an excellent recording with some wonderfully original songs.  In my opinion, the best song on the album is Let's make this Christmas mean something this year, the message of the song is timeless and I love the background singers on this track. There are some fun and funky tracks as well as some beautiful soulful songs too. This is not your traditional Christmas fare, but they are certainly classics in their own right. Some of the more funky tracks are Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto and Hey America, which are very enjoyable songs, although not in the traditional holiday way.  One of the more soulful songs is Sweet Little Baby Boy, which is just lovely.  There are also some bluesy songs too, such as Merry Christmas Baby and Please Come Home For Christmas.  I was saddened to hear the Mr. Brown passed away on Christmas day in 2006.  I now play this album in his memory.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Santa Baby!

There is something oddly appealing to me about kids posing for pictures on Santa's lap.  One of my favorite things to do around the holidays is to put up old photos of me and my brother and sister sitting on Santa's lap.  Over the years, I've managed to collect a few more photos as well, including my mom's visit to Santa, which is reminiscent of  Miracle on 34th Street.  Enjoy!

 This is a photo of my mom with Santa.  She looks a little annoyed that Santa is grabbing her arm!  I absolutely adore the little hat and purse that my mom is wearing...and that painted backdrop is lovely.  This was most likely taken in the late 40s.

Purchased this photo at a local bookstore.  I love the terrified look on this girls face!  She doesn't look like she's about to cry, but seems mesmerized by Santa's gaze.

 This photo was purchased at a local flea market about 10 years ago.  I love the shelving in the background with the giant toys sitting in them.  Its very shadowy and atmospheric and Santa looks slightly menacing.  On the back of the photo is information about the boys. It was taken in 1955. Scott was 3 years old and Jr. was 11 when this photo was taken. It also has the birthdays of the boys as well. Jr's birthday is August 19, 1944 and Scott's birthday is December 9th, 1952. Too bad there are no last names on this photo.

Here I am with my brother and sister.  My little brother looks slightly dazed here.  This was taken at Gimbel's Department Store probably in 1973.  My mom would dress us up in our holiday finery and do our hair so we looked perfect for these photos.  I love that my brother was forced to wear a holiday pin on his turtleneck!  

This is the ultimate 70s Santa photo!  Look at the homemade vests my sister and I are sporting!  Also, note the 70s style shag haircut, which was inspired by Jane Fonda from the film Klute.  The vests were made by our next door neighbors.  They were three sisters who were all old maids living together.  Their names were Lilly, Ruth and Loretta (reminds me of the Golden Girls).  I recall one summer when we were outside playing, Lilly would call us over to her house, and she would do some quick measurements and send us on our way, then at Christmas, we would receive a handmade gift from her and her sisters.  They were the sweetest old ladies and they treated us as if we were their grandchildren.  

This was most likely my very first visit to Santa and I look completely terrified!  This photo was snapped moments before I burst out crying.  Most likely taken in 65'.