Gina Greenlee, Author
Just the Two of Us
Updated: Jan 2, 2022
Every December Daddy took the box down from the top closet shelf. I sat on our blue carpeted living room floor to separate the artificial tree branches by size. Next, unwind the electrical light cord from the newspaper roll that kept it from tangling. Retrieve the large, and what would now be considered, vintage light bulbs from their corrugated, partitioned boxes. Screw the colored bulbs into the electrical cord sockets. Then, one by one, revisit favorite ornaments from Christmases past. Dad was busy anchoring the tree in its base, connecting the sections of its trunk, and replacing light bulbs exhausted from the previous year. Together, we gently lay the old-style metal tinsel across the end of the assembled tree branches. In the background, the Yule Log burned bright.
The Yule Log is a television show that premiered in full color on Saturday, December 24, 1966, at 9:30 PM on WPIX Channel 11 in New York City. It originally aired from 1966 to 1989, and after long hiatus, revived in 2001. The four-hour show, broadcast without commercial interruption, is a film loop of a yule log burning in a fireplace. A soundtrack of Christmas classics plays in the background.
In the pre-digital age of the 1960s, to anyone outside of New York City, this idea sounded bizarre. For Manhattan apartment dwellers, not at all. Notes Wikipedia: “Created in 1966 by Fred M. Thrower, president and chief executive officer of WPIX, Inc., the Yule Log was inspired by an animated Coca-Cola commercial from a year earlier that showed Santa Claus at a fireplace. Thrower envisioned the program as a televised Christmas gift to those residents of New York who lived in apartments and homes without fireplaces. This also provided time for employees of the television station to stay home with their families, instead of working for the usual morning news program.”
For a child growing up in a steroidal urban environment, the Yule Log abetted traditional holiday fantasy – that cozy cabin-in-the-woods feeling, sitting in front of roaring fire that in this instance, no one had to build or tend. With my mother out singing in churches and holiday concerts, where she preferred to be, Dad and I spent time in companionable silence. My father read one of his treasured books, which he’d set down every so often to watch the Yule Log with me. Mesmerized by the dancing flames and lulled into a rare peacefulness within my childhood home, I nestled on the couch for hours alongside the love of my life.
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