Through the Front Door

A very merry retro Christmas

By Lisa Bartell of Wisteria Cove
Photos by Bethany Lowe Designs

We live in a fast-paced society — a computer age where everything is at our fingertips at a touch of a button. Abundance seems to be the key to success and happiness. As humans our bodies and minds can’t operate at megahertz speed, bringing us unnecessary stress and frustration, especially during the Christmas holiday season. Let’s take a moment to slow down, sit back, unwind and relax. Imagine a much simpler time when children played outside with their friends not in front of a video game for hours. A time where everyone gathered around the family dinner table, enjoying a meal and talking about their day, not texting or eating on the run. A time when cards and letters were hand written and delivered by the good old United States Postal service, not by email. A time when the closest thing we had to the ever-present cell phone was a string with two cans tied to either end.

Yes, holidays in the 1950s where less stressful. Little Suzie and Johnny only got one or two presents that didn’t cost an entire week’s salary. Christmas cookies were homemade from a family recipe. Families seemed to be much closer and valued the true meaning of Christmas, practicing time honored traditions. Join me as I show you some photos of 1950s holiday decor and fun facts of a 50s Christmas.

Rockin around the Christmas tree

With WWII ending in the mid 1940s, America was once again in the swing of things in the 1950s. Fresh evergreens were available; in fact over 30 million Christmas trees were sold in 1954 alone. If a fresh tree didn’t fit your lifestyle, you had a choice of an artificial green or white Christmas tree. If you were really ultra modern, you may try one of those new-fangled Aluminum tinsel trees with a revolving color wheel. Some said this new tree was so different, that it was sacrilege.

During the war our glass ornaments from Germany had ceased. So America started producing many ornaments from plastic and Styrofoam. Even though glass ornaments starting coming over again in the 1950s, Americans still bought plastic ornaments because they were virtually unbreakable and they were very inexpensive. Plastic ornaments came in figural shapes of angels, bells, Santas and snowmen. Styrofoam balls often were covered in spun satin or covered in glitter. Glass balls that were popular during that time were mercury glass, giving off a brilliant shine.

A popular light that was strung on the tree was a bubble light. It was a glass candle shape tube filled with a chemical that when heated produced a bubbling effect. Beneath the tree, many families had a village of cardboard houses lit up with a string of Christmas lights that would shine through their cellophane panes, all atop a blanket of cotton snow. Of course encircled around the village would be a train chugging along a shiny black track. Some would even have lead figures, villagers if you will. The villagers would be skating on a pond or sitting on bench; others would be taking a sleigh ride all having the merriest of times.

Toys for tots

Popular toys for the 1950s were Barbie, pedal cars, Matchbox cars, Frisbee, Hula hoops, Tonka trucks, Yahtzee, Mr. Potato Head, Slinky Dog, Play Doh, skateboards and Pez, to name a few.

Popular 50s eats

New to the times and quite popular at the family table or for entertaining were clam dip, Chex Mix, baked Alaska, California Dip, deviled eggs, tuna noodle casserole, chicken tetrazzini, fruit cake and applesauce cake.

Holiday movies

White Christmas, Scrooge, Frosty the Snowman, Holly and the Ivy and Spirit of Christmas, just to name a few popular ones.

Favorite Holiday tunes

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, Santa Baby, Home for the Holidays, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, Jingle Bell Rock … and many more.

Enjoy your holidays, remember to relax and enjoy the real meaning of Christmas and spread love and joy to those who are familiar as well as the not-so-familiar.

Author: Brian

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