Universal Translator

Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

That Second Kind of Christmas




Author John Steinbeck wrote  to his friend, politician Adlai Stevenson in November 1959. At this time, it had been discovered that certain game shows had been rigging their outcomes, John wrote to his friend about the fact that maybe America itself was being rigged by a pervasive corporate and political immorality and being effectively dulled by increasing gluttony and want.



New York
1959
Guy Fawkes Day

Dear Adlai,

Back from Camelot, and, reading the papers, not at all sure it was wise. Two first impressions. First, a creeping, all pervading nerve-gas of immorality which starts in the nursery and does not stop before it reaches the highest offices both corporate and governmental. Two, a nervous restlessness, a hunger, a thirst, a yearning for something unknown—perhaps morality. Then there's the violence, cruelty and hypocrisy symptomatic of a people which has too much, and last, the surly ill-temper which only shows up in human when they are frightened.

Adlai, do you remember two kinds of Christmases? There is one kind in a house where there is little and a present represents not only love but sacrifice. The one single package is opened with a kind of slow wonder, almost reverence. Once I gave my youngest boy, who loves all living things, a dwarf, peach-faced parrot for Christmas. He removed the paper and then retreated a little shyly and looked at the little bird for a long time. And finally he said in a whisper, "Now who would have ever thought that I would have a peach-faced parrot?" 

Then there is the other kind of Christmas with present piled high, the gifts of guilty parents as bribes because they have nothing else to give. The wrappings are ripped off and the presents thrown down and at the end the child says—"Is that all?" Well, it seems to me that America now is like that second kind of Christmas. Having too many THINGS they spend their hours and money on the couch searching for a soul. A strange species we are. We can stand anything God and nature can throw at us save only plenty. If I wanted to destroy a nation, I would give it too much and would have it on its knees, miserable, greedy and sick. And then I think of our "Daily" in Somerset, who served your lunch. She made a teddy bear with her own hands for our grandchild. Made it out of an old bath towel dyed brown and it is beautiful. She said, "Sometimes when I have a bit of rabbit fur, they come out lovelier." Now there is a present. And that obviously male teddy bear is going to be called for all time MIZ Hicks.

When I left Bruton, I checked out with Officer 'Arris, the lone policeman who kept the peace in five villages, unarmed and on a bicycle. He had been very kind to us and I took him a bottle of Bourbon whiskey. But I felt it necessary to say—"It's a touch of Christmas cheer, officer, and you can't consider it a bribe because I don't want anything and I am going away..." He blushed and said, "Thank you, sir, but there was no need." To which I replied—"If there had been, I would not have brought it."

Mainly, Adlai, I am troubled by the cynical immorality of my country. I do not think it can survive on this basis and unless some kind of catastrophe strikes us, we are lost. But by our very attitudes we are drawing catastrophe to ourselves. What we have beaten in nature, we cannot conquer in ourselves.

Someone has to reinspect our system and that soon. We can't expect to raise our children to be good and honorable men when the city, the state, the government, the corporations all offer higher rewards for chicanery and deceit than probity and truth. On all levels it is rigged, Adlai. Maybe nothing can be done about it, but I am stupid enough and naively hopeful enough to want to try. How about you?

Yours,

John











(Source: America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction; Image: John Steinbeck, via lettersofnote.com .)


For more fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos; visit the Letters of Note archive here.



Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Christmas Breakfast Menu, 1964


This Christmas breakfast menu appeared in 1964 in The Fast Gourmet Cook Book by Poppy Cannon.  Ms. Cannon was food editor of the Ladies’ Home Journal magazine, as well as Mademoiselle and House Beautiful.  Besides writing cookbooks, she also lectured and appeared on television.  The Fast Gourmet Cook Book is based on her column “The Fast Gourmet”, which appeared three times a week in 120 newspapers.




Christmas Breakfast Menu

Silver-spangled Grapefruit
Broiled Ham Slices
Baked Eggs in English Muffin Shells
More English Muffins, Plain-toasted and Buttered
Cinnamon Candy Jelly
Large Cups of Coffee or Tea







The Recipes

SILVER –SPANGLED GRAPEFRUIT…Cut grapefruits in halves.  Scoop out the fruit in sections.  Sweeten with a little honey and add, for each grapefruit, a tablespoon of sherry (optional).  Paint grapefruit rims with a little honey.  Place each half cut-side-down on a saucer covered with 1/3 cup granulated sugar made verdant with 3 drops green coloring.  Refill the shells adding orange or cubed apple sections if fruit looks skimpy.  Dot the green rim with silver candies and garnish with cranberries cut to look like flowers.

BAKED EGGS IN ENGLISH MUFFIN SHELLS…Tear English muffins in half with a fork.  Scoop out soft centers.  Drop an egg into each one.  Season with salt, pepper and a couple drops of Worchestershire.  Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) 6 to 8 minutes or until set.

YOUR OWN CINNAMON CANDY JELLY…In a large saucepan place a quart of sweet apple cider or apple juice.  Add 2 tablespoons red cinnamon candies and 1 box powdered fruit pectin.  Mix well.  Place over high heat, stir until mixture comes to a hard boil.  Then all at once, dump in 4 ½ cups sugar.  Bring to a full rolling boil.  Boil hard 1 minute stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, skim off foam, pour into 8 jelly glasses.  Cover with 1/8 inch melted paraffin.  For gifts, decorate paraffin with silver dagees and red cinnamon candies.






Saturday, 21 December 2013

"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."



In 1897, eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's now-defunct newspaper, The Sun, concerning Santa Claus' existence. In response, Francis Pharcellus Church published the editorial 'Is There a Santa Claus'.  The editorial became the most reprinted English-language editorial in history.


'



Virginia's great-grandson appeared with the letter on the Antiques Roadshow in 1997, where the letter was valued at $20,000 – $30,000. You can watch a clip in which the letter was valued here

Monday, 16 December 2013

Eight-year-old to President Kennedy: "Save Santa!"

Eight-year-old Michelle holding Kennedy's letter in 1961


In 1961, after hearing her parents discussing possible Soviet nuclear tests at the North Pole, 
8-year-old Michelle Rochon grabbed a pencil and wrote a letter to U.S. President John F. Kennedy, asking him to sop nuclear testing for one special reason. Her letter, and the reply she received from the President, can be read below.






Dear Mr. Kennedy,

Please stop the Russians from bombing the North Pole because they will kill Santa Claus. I am 8 years old. I am in the third grade at Holy Cross School.

Yours truly,

Michelle Rochon

--------------------------

THE WHITE HOUSE

October 28, 1961

Dear Michelle:

I was glad to get your letter about trying to stop the Russians from bombing the North Pole and risking the life of Santa Claus. 

I share your concern about the atmospheric testing of the Soviet Union, not only for the North Pole but for countries throughout the world; not only for Santa Claus but for people throughout the world. 

However, you must not worry about Santa Claus. I talked with him yesterday and he is fine. He will be making his rounds again this Christmas. 

Sincerely, 

(Signed, 'John Kennedy')

Miss Michelle Rochon
Marine City, Michigan




(Source: The Letters of John F. Kennedy, published by Bloomsbury Press on October 29, 2013, via www.lettersofnote.com )

"Letter from Santa Claus" by Mark Twain

On Christmas morning of 1875, three-year-old Susie Clemens found this letter from "Santa Claus".  I'm guessing that her father Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) might have played "Santa's helper" that day. 




Palace of St. Nicholas.
In the Moon.
Christmas Morning.

My dear Susie Clemens:

I have received and read all the letters which you and your little sister have written me by the hand of your mother and your nurses; I have also read those which you little people have written me with your own hands—for although you did not use any characters that are in grown peoples' alphabet, you used the characters that all children in all lands on earth and in the twinkling stars use; and as all my subjects in the moon are children and use no character but that, you will easily understand that I can read your and your baby sister's jagged and fantastic marks without any trouble at all. But I had trouble with those letters which you dictated through your mother and the nurses, for I am a foreigner and cannot read English writing well. You will find that I made no mistakes about the things which you and the baby ordered in your own letters—I went down your chimney at midnight when you were asleep and delivered them all myself—and kissed both of you, too, because you are good children, well trained, nice mannered, and about the most obedient little people I ever saw. But in the letter which you dictated there were some words which I could not make out for certain, and one or two small orders which I could not fill because we ran out of stock. Our last lot of kitchen furniture for dolls has just gone to a very poor little child in the North Star away up, in the cold country above the Big Dipper. Your mama can show you that star and you will say: "Little Snow Flake," (for that is the child's name) "I'm glad you got that furniture, for you need it more than I." That is, you must write that, with your own hand, and Snow Flake will write you an answer. If you only spoke it she wouldn't hear you. Make your letter light and thin, for the distance is great and the postage very heavy.

There was a word or two in your mama's letter which I couldn't be certain of. I took it to be "trunk full of doll's clothes." Is that it? I will call at your kitchen door about nine o'clock this morning to inquire. But I must not see anybody and I must not speak to anybody but you. When the kitchen doorbell rings, George must be blindfolded and sent to open the door. Then he must go back to the dining room or the china closet and take the cook with him. You must tell George he must walk on tiptoe and not speak—otherwise he will die someday. Then you must go up to the nursery and stand on a chair or the nurse's bed and put your ear to the speaking tube that leads down to the kitchen and when I whistle through it you must speak in the tube and say, "Welcome, Santa Claus!" Then I will ask whether it was a trunk you ordered or not. If you say it was, I shall ask you what color you want the trunk to be. Your mama will help you to name a nice color and then you must tell me every single thing in detail which you want the trunk to contain. Then when I say "Good bye and a merry Christmas to my little Susie Clemens," you must say "Good bye, good old Santa Claus, I thank you very much and please tell that little Snow Flake I will look at her star tonight and she must look down here—I will be right in the west bay window; and every fine night I will look at her star and say, 'I know somebody up there and like her, too.'" Then you must go down into the library and make George close all the doors that open into the main hall, and everybody must keep still for a little while. I will go to the moon and get those things and in a few minutes I will come down the chimney that belongs to the fireplace that is in the hall—if it is a trunk you want—because I couldn't get such a thing as a trunk down the nursery chimney, you know.

People may talk if they want, until they hear my footsteps in the hall. Then you tell them to keep quiet a little while till I go back up the chimney. Maybe you will not hear my footsteps at all—so you may go now and then and peep through the dining-room doors, and by and by you will see that thing which you want, right under the piano in the drawing room-for I shall put it there. If I should leave any snow in the hall, you must tell George to sweep it into the fireplace, for I haven't time to do such things. George must not use a broom, but a rag—else he will die someday. You must watch George and not let him run into danger. If my boot should leave a stain on the marble, George must not holystone it away. Leave it there always in memory of my visit; and whenever you look at it or show it to anybody you must let it remind you to be a good little girl. Whenever you are naughty and somebody points to that mark which your good old Santa Claus's boot made on the marble, what will you say, little sweetheart?

Goodbye for a few minutes, till I come down to the world and ring the kitchen door-bell.

Your loving 

Santa Claus

Whom people sometimes call "The Man in the Moon"






(Source: Posterity: Letters of Great Americans to Their Children via www.lettersofnote.com )