...tonight at 8 p.m., Channel 7 will be broadcasting an animated Christmas Classic, "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town". That's the one with the misfit elf who wants to be a dentist, an Abominable Snowman with a toothache, and Burl Ives' voice belting out, "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas!", as a singing Snowman. The special is as much a part of America's national "television identity" as "I Love Lucy".
...I was a little kid when this program first aired, 4 or 5 years old at best, and viewing it always heightened the excitement of the holiday season and the anticipation of a visit by Santa Claus. By the time it aired, Dad was finished stringing lights on the gutters and downspouts, and enjoying a cold beer in his easy chair, just like all the other dads on the block. The Christmas tree was in the livingroom, filling the house with a fresh pine aroma.
...while we kids were at school, Mom was busy putting the lights on the tree, a task
accomplished quicker and easier without young ones around. She would turn on the lights just long enough to test for burnt out bulbs and to make certain that all the "bubble lights" really bubbled. When Mom was satisfied, she'd set up a nativity scene on a sheet of cottony material that looked like snow, at least to a 5 year old boy. Next there was a snow covered church with a tiny light bulb inside that made the windows glow red. In front of this church, tiny novelty candles shaped like pine trees, carolers, musicians, gas powered street lamps, and even a snowman made a cheery holiday scene.
...we hung ornaments on the tree after dinner. At that time, my favorites always went on the lower branches because I couldn't reach the higher ones. My sister and brother carefully filled those spaces. Finally, when we were content, Mom would appear with two special boxes that looked like they held treasure inside. Dad would always chuckle when we reached this part of the tree trimming. The first box, tall and white, held "The Angel". Originally a wedding present, this angel is forever etched in my memory. It looked something like Glinda, the "Good Witch Of The North" from the movie, The Wizard of Oz but with a "holier" or more "saintly" appearance. It was sheer joy when The Angel got plugged in and lit up! The second special box was much smaller, it opened like a ring box, but was three times as big. Inside was a delicate, hand blown, glass teapot. Also a wedding gift, the teapot was painted with delicate white snowflakes and I can not remember a Christmas at home when it was not displayed in a prominent position on our tree. Once The Angel and The Teapot were in place, the lights were flicked on amidst excited gleeful screams and we threw the silver tinsel onto each branch. What excitement it was!
... in anticipation of "bedtime", we would all snuggle up on the couch and tune the black and white television on to Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. I'd get scared by the mean, old Abominable Snowman and cuddle closer to whomever was nearest. By the time that the misfit elf removed his bad tooth, I'd already be half asleep. Maybe tonight I'll tune in to the colorized and digitally remastered version - just for old times sake.