The Living Room - Christmas 1969

The top photo: Check it out, not just one rotating color light for the tree, but two!

My pal Angela did the Christmas interiors for us that year. The artfully strewn red ribbon on the tree is her creation, as is the angel hair-shrouded thing on top of the curio cabinet. Also on the top of the cabinet, and partially covered by the "Pa" figurine, is an aerosol can of what I call "tree stink." A can of evergreen-scented room freshener, you sprayed it on your California fake tree to give it the semblance (well, the smell) of life.

In our first Christmas in the house - 1965 - Dad brought home an aluminum tree that was simply awesome. When the color wheel rotated to red or yellow, it looked like it was on fire. But that wasn't the most notable Christmas tree to be displayed in my household by far, oh, no. That would have to be the Christmas tree of 1962 that Mom made. She got some rebar (those rippled iron rods that builders use to reinforce concrete) and fashioned a bird cage sort of shape. She then hung colored lights around it, draped the whole thing with scratchy fiberglass angel hair and suspended our Christmas ornaments in each little square. This was then hung from the ceiling at the window! I made a rocket ship out of it after the thing was thrown into the back yard. My main regret is that I don't have a photograph of it because nobody believes me when I tell this story. (They clearly haven't examined this web site or they'd be convinced.)

The photo at the top is before all the Christmas presents were opened, obviously. The one at the bottom was probably taken on Christmas morning. That geeky teenager is thirteen. I am posing in a shirt and pants ensemble resembling those of a prison inmate, or sailor. (Some Navy men will maintain there's no difference.) I got a Life Savers Sweet Story Book, which is to the left of that doll's skirt. It became a tradition with my mother; she gave me my first one the year before, in 1968. I think that may have been the first year they were produced. I'm pretty sure she gave me one for Christmas at her last Christmas, in 1994.

No, I did not get that doll for Christmas; it's my mother's (!), given to her by Angela's mother. It's a "Swingy." Battery-powered, when you flip the switch it sways side to side and judders forward with a frozen smile, all the while swinging its plastic hair. It came with a flexible 45 rpm record to play. It did not become a Top 10 hit in our household.

I am holding a antique globe pen holder for my desk which came with four colored ink ballpoint pens. Like just about every other colored ink ballpoint pen in the Sixties, these stopped working soon after opening. That harvest gold plastic box behind me was for Mom's sewing threads and needles, etc. Behind that you can see some lemon yellow objects wrapped in plastic. These were a Jean Nate gift set of soaps, sprays, talcs, etc. In the ensuing years Mom would make it her business to obsessively collect every single Jean Nate product and display same on a cheap white plastic wall shelf in our small bathroom. The shelf placement wasn't an issue when one was seated on the toilet, but it was when one was standing at it. Consequently, Dad and I used to knock Jean Nate products around on that wretched shelf all the time. It finally came down and all the Jean Nate stuff was thrown out or stuffed in the sink cabinet.

Some packaging flotsam and jetsam is on the floor, and some still-wrapped gifts are seen behind me. Perhaps they're for the Holland Family, whose house was the usual venue for Christmas dinner and an extended penny-ante card game among the adults.

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