Merry Chanukah

THE HOLIDAY’S TRIUMPHANT RISE FROM AN OVERLOOKED AFTERTHOUGHT IS ONE OF AMERICA’S GREATEST SUCCESS STORIES.

It was the last day of Chanukah, and the family gathering was filled with holiday spirit. Gifts were exchanged, the menorah was lit amid prayers and sacred songs, and then everyone sat down for a festive meal. At one point during the evening, an older member of the family found himself alone in the living room with a young cousin.

 
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Christmas Without George Bailey

Twelve classic holiday movies worth seeing when you can’t sit through It’s a Wonderful Life one more time

Every American knows what Christmas means. It means Miracle on 34th Street , A Christmas Carol , and It’s a Wonderful Life . Year after year. For readers who have found themselves finally half wanting Porter Hall to lock up Edmund Gwenn, Scrooge to fire Cratchit, and James Stewart to jump, here are twelve titles just as good that have avoided such wearying ubiquity. They may even reawaken that old holiday spirit in you.

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The Pumpkin Paper

A vicious attack on a holiday favorite

When Sir Walter Raleigh’s men set foot on Roanoke Island in 1585 they found the Indians growing a vegetable named “Macócqwer … called by us Pompions … and very good.” It was also very plentiful, and by the seventeenth century colonists were reciting a bit of doggerel that reflected their indebtedness to—if not their delight in—the ubiquitous squash: “We have pumpkins at morning./Pumpkins at noon./If it were not for pumpkins/We should be undoon.” Read more »

Mighty, Like A Rose

A National Institution That Began With Buggies and Buckboards

On New Year’s Day each year, millions of Americans crawl out of bed bleary-eyed, fix a late breakfast, then stumble into the living room, turn on the television set, and sit transfixed while various celebrities attempt to describe the obvious. It is a national ritual. Read more »

Poisoned Dart From Cupid’s Quiver

We tend to think of the turn of the century as a sentimental era when grown men were not ashamed to weep over musichall effusions about motherhood and infant mortality. If ever there was an age that should have paid proper respect to St. Valentine’s Day, it was this one. Therefore there is something faintly shocking about the perverse sideline on the following pages. They are valentines, they cost only a penny each, and they made many people unhappy once a year for more than a century.Read more »

A Visit From St. Nicholas

Illustrated with late-nineteenth-century magic-lantern slides Together with a brief inquiry into a Christmas mystery

’T was the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there; The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads; Read more »

The Old Vets

Year by year the ranks of the G.A.R. grew thinner —but until the last old soldier was gone, Decoration Day in a New England town was a moving memorial to “the War”

The War had been over hardly two decades when I was a boy. If one had occasion to refer to it, he called it simply “the War,” for it was the only war we had had within the memory of all but a negligible few.Read more »