The Christmas That Never Was

Christmas strikes us as the most nostalgic of holidays. Most folks recall with great fondness the Christmases of their childhood—the toys of that era, the music—and consider those years, whenever they might have been, the “golden age” of Christmas.

Then there are those of who feel nostalgia for the eras we never knew firsthand.

This 1950 short depicts Christmas as it probably never really was (think about it—could your older sister warble like that?), but it’s a fun eight-plus minutes anyway.

The Karen Files, pt. 6

Another in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the life of our mother:

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We can remember, as a child, feeling a bit shocked when we saw Karen and Lloyd’s wedding photos. They looked very happy and the occasion was clearly a joyful one, but Karen was, for us, almost unrecognizable. If an impartial party were to appraise those wedding photos, based purely on traditional standards of physical attractiveness, Lloyd might well be deemed the biggest catch.

Of course, we know that no one is assessed purely on physical features alone. The plainest John or Jane can overcome their physical limitations with personality, intelligence, vitality, kindness, a sense of humor, a spark of adventurousness, and the most alluring slice of cheese- or beefcake can quickly lose its appeal when the contents of the book are revealed to fall well short of the cover’s promise (if you’ll excuse the mixed metaphors).

As has been established in previous installments of The Karen Files, Mom went blonde in the late ’50s, and the change suited her. She also somehow grew into her features (if it’s appropriate for a son to make such aesthetic judgments about his mother) in that way some people do (we’re still waiting to grow into ours).

In this photo, which we’re guessing is from her late high school years or perhaps early college—right around 1950—she looks lovely, but a bit awkward, too; one might even say gawky.

But it wasn’t Karen’s appearance, lovely as it could be, that was her strongest asset. It was the person she was—the vivacious, outgoing, strong-willed, soft-hearted, smart, witty and fun gal she was back then and remained throughout her life.

Wonder city of the world!

An acquaintance of ours once wrote of New York City and its denizens:

“Even New Yorkers who have lived here all their lives are happy to sit back and chat away about the place as if they’d just come across it. It’s a regular topic of conversation. And what’s nice is that it’s neither particularly narcissistic nor self-loathing, this chatter, but more curious and delighted.”

We think that as apt and accurate a description of New Yorkers’ attitude toward their town as we’ve ever heard.

We find that New Yorkers not only like to talk about their town, to commiserate over its delights and surprises (and, yes, miseries) with one another, but most every New Yorker we know also likes to see the city on the silver screen (or perhaps the small screen at home). Even though we’re surrounded at all times by the hustle and bustle, the noise and hordes of people and row after row of concrete towers, most of us still get a kick out of seeing them depicted cinematically.

And it’s an even rarer treat to see the streets of the city as they once were, in old movies and promotional films.

The film we’re sharing with you today, “Flight to New York,” is a promo film for Trans-World Airlines, but it touts the Big Apple just as much as that now-defunct air carrier. It was shot in 1950, and most of the attractions featured in it are still around today. But there’s something about seeing them as they once were, captured in glorious black-and-white.