Wednesday, November 10, 2010


   Tracing the roots of the artificial Christmas tree, we find they did not start out as being purple, nor did they start out costing the high dollars they do today.
   The first artificial Christmas tree appeared in the Sears and Roebuck catalog.  It had a wooden base, 25 branches, five candle attachments, and was decorated with red berries.  The price for this tree was .23 cents.

  By 1915, Sears and Roebuck offered artificial Christmas trees mounted in large white pots.  The thick branches were covered with artificial foliage and the price had skyrocketed to an unbelievable .98 cents.  In addition to the price of the artificial Christmas tree, the biggest change over the past few decades has been how the tree is put together once the consumer gets it home.  Back then, the artificial trees consisted of many small pieces that had to be fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.  Dad's across the country spent many long, frustrating hours putting those kind together.  Noonday's, the typical artificial Christmas tree has three parts to assemble and opens like an umbrella.

   In the 1945 Sears and Roebuck Christmas catalog, the retailer was touting artificial trees with dark green, straw like yarn that was supposed to look like pine needles.  In the 1950's, the green yarn gave way to what was deemed "glamorous" nylon net trees.  The 60's ushered in the era of aluminum trees and tree color choices.  Some readers will recall the silver or white aluminum trees, the branches were sparse, but your family was cool if you had one of these trees.
  By 1968, manufacturers decided that the artificial trees should have a uniform shape on all sides.  1972 saw another color change in the trees, the green color became variegated to look more realistic.  For those who did not want realistic looking trees, there was the new blue aluminum Christmas tree that could be chosen.

vintage silver aluminum Christmas tree

   Today's options in artificial Christmas trees span the gamut.  Consumers have choices ranging for traditional, realistic Douglas firs, to any color of their choosing, including purple.  If you are not nostalgic for an old silver aluminum Christmas tree, you can probably find one at a thrift shop or on Ebay.  The roots of the artificial Christmas tree runs deep, they have been around a long time and it appears they will be around for a long time to come.


    Now I know that some of you may not know exactly what a Christmas cracker is or what it does, but let me start out by assuring you that it is not something that you can spread cheese on and eat!  Well, you could, but you might regret it a short while after....
   Perhaps not as well known in the United States. , The humble Christmas cracker has been a staple ingredient in every household in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia since time immemorial.  They are loved by children and adults alike and are always the first part of the traditional Christmas dinner every year.

   They are basically a party favor, a small cylindrical cardboard tube, wrapped in festive paper and filled with a small prize, a paper hat and usually an awful joke.  There is a long, thin peice of paper that runs through the cracker that, when broken, produces a loud snapping sound, or "crack"-hence the name.  The idea is that you hold one end and offer the other to someone else at the table and then proceed to play a mini "tug-of-war" with each other, until the cracker "cracks" in two.

   These can be bought in varying degrees of quality.  At the bottom of the pile there are the bargain basement cheap ones that will most likely fail to produce any form of noise except a groan from the pullers and a soft swear from the person who paid for them.  The other end of the scale sees opulence personified in the form of 6 hand crafted crackers costing upwards of $5000, containing such prizes as gold watches, pearl earrings and diamond rings-I kid you not!

How to make Christmas Crackers

   It is easy, quick and fun to make your very own Christmas crackers, and kids absolutely love it!  All you need is a few toilet rolls, some fancy Christmas paper, a roll of ribbon, glue and some prizes to go inside.  Even the snappers can be bought over the internet if you aren't able to find them at your local arts and crafts store.  I have found a great website called Old English Crackers.com, which is an entire website devoted to the humble Christmas Cracker and all the information you need on how to make Christmas crackers this year.  They even sell all the materials you will need to bring gasps of surprise from your guests this season as they take their seats at the dinner table. 
   Traditionally, you get to choose whom you pull the cracker with and whoever ends up with the larger half after the "bang", keeps the prize.  It is then customary for the winner to pull their cracker with the same person, in order to give them a sporting chance at winning something back.  Soon enough, everyone at the table is wearing a paper hat, and has recited the groan-inducing corny joke found in their cracker, won a prize and is ow offering to trade their prize with the person next to them.
   So go ahead and have a go at making your very own Christmas crackers this season for the personal touch to the Christmas table, and bring a touch of old English tradition into your home.


  • 300 million turkeys get cooked for Thanksgiving celebrations in the U.S. every year.
  • The most extraordinary Thanksgiving dinner feast ever was the first meal eaten on the moon, celebrated with a turkey and all the trimmings by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
  • The person responsible for making Thanksgiving into a national holiday was Sarah Hale, who was the editor of the woman's magazine, Godey's Lady's Book.  She wrote to congress over a period of many years, petitioning for Thanksgiving to be made into a national holiday.
  • The original Pilgrims were Puritans, who wished to purify the Church of England.  They were also known as Separatists for wanting to separate them selves from the Anglican Church
  • The Indians that participated in the first Thanksgiving were the Wampamoag tribe and their leader or chief was Massasoit.
  • Turkey is said to have come from the Hebrew word "Tukki", which means parrot or fowl.
  • The original Plymouth Rock is cracked because during the Revolutionary War, the rock was moved to be placed on a pedestal, it cracked during its removal.
  • The reason a male turkey is called a "Tom", comes from a story,  that Ben Franklin, to get back at Thomas Jefferson for opposing his suggestion of the turkey as the national bird, decided to call the male turkey "Tom Turkey.
  • To test that a cranberry is just the right ripeness, it is dropped and must bounce 4 inches for it to be ripe.