A step by step guide…
Christmas in the 70s
1. Mid-October: When the Sears Roebuck and J.C. Penney’s Christmas catalogs come in the mail, give them to the kids and tell them to circle what they want. Order about a quarter of it. Do not order the rock polisher they keep asking for.
2. Continue about your normal routine until the second week of December.
3. Check the TV Guide for the dates and times when all the Rankin/Bass Christmas specials will air. Plan accordingly so the kids don’t miss them again this year. You don’t want to have to listen to Jessica crying about having to wait ‘til next year to see Rudolph.
4. Make a large container of Chex Mix to have on hand. Restock the liquor cabinet and be sure to purchase plenty of Crown Royal and the ingredients for pina coladas. Harveys Bristol Cream is good to have on hand during the holiday season as well. Do not forget both green and red maraschino cherries.
5. Around December 15th drag the fiberglass tree up from the cellar along with the box of Christmas decorations.
6. First, spray everything with several aerosol cans of fake snow.
7. String the tree with blinking, multicolored lights. Spend 45 minutes trying to find the one bulb on the string that’s burned out and thus making all of the other lights in the string not work. Replace that bulb. Become tangled in cords. Go into the den for a cigarette to calm down.
8. Come back in and add an extra shot of rum to your eggnog before hanging red and gold balls on the tree. These would be the Styrofoam balls covered in a layer of silky thread. They only look nice for about five minutes out of the box because the thread always get snagged on the tree branches and starts to fray and unravel. Spray some aerosol Aquanet hairspray on them. It might work. It might not. It also might make the ornaments more flammable, especially if they’re close to the lights, but c’est la vie. All these fire prevention tips are overrated anyway.
9. Cover the entire tree with tinsel. All of it. You don’t even want to see that tree. You just want to see a big, glowing pyramid of blinking lights and tinsel in your living room picture window.
10. Take the children downtown to visit Santa. Snap a couple Polaroids of the event. Give them each a candy cane and get home in time to watch “Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey.”
11. Pick up a pack of Christmas cards the next time you’re in the Hallmark store on Main Street. Maybe something in an elegant Currier & Ives style this year. Run home and write them out and then stop by the post office later for a pack of thirteen cent stamps.
12. Windex the protective vinyl coverings on your living room set and dust your ornate, gilt, rain lamp so your home looks nice for Christmas guests. Water the terrarium while you’re at it and stick a ceramic elf in the soil for holiday cheer.
13. Go downtown to the Sears distribution center to pick up your order while the kids are at school. Wrap everything and hide it in the shed outside where they can’t find it. If you run out of wrapping paper, just use the funny pages.
14. Plan Christmas menu: canned ham, fruit cocktail, Watergate salad, green bean casserole, jellied cranberry salad, Hawaiian punch with rainbow sherbet, nutty cheese ball, fruit cake…
15. Attend the children’s public school Christmas pageant that is complete with a manger scene. Wish everyone a Merry Christmas.
16. Come home and save cat from choking to death on tinsel for the sixty-fifth time.
17. Put on the Donny and Marie Christmas album. Dust off The Carpenters’ “Merry Christmas, Darling” and that annoying Chipmunks record the kids love so much.
18. Dress the girls in matching, floor length, red velvet, empire-waisted, high-collared gowns with white ruffled cuffs. Put the boys in corduroys, plaid button ups with dog-ear collars and matching Hunter green vests. Throw on your new bright red pants suit with the attached silk scarf, finish with a spritz of L’Air du Temps and praise polyester! No more ironing! You are now ready to go to the Christmas Eve service at church.
19. On Christmas morning get the flashbulbs ready and take several photos of the kids opening their Lite-Brites and Slinkies. Relax while Matthew plays with his Starsky and Hutch car and the girls prance around in their new Wonder Woman and Bat Girl Underoos.
20. Slip into your new jumpsuit, wing your hair and put the canned ham in the oven along with a Mrs. Smith’s pumpkin pie.
21. Enjoy dinner with the family on the rec room pool table which you have covered with a plastic tablecloth printed with bells and wreaths.
22. Let the kids play with their favorite gift: COUSINS. The adults can have Irish coffee, fruit cake and a few Benson & Hedges in the family room while the snow falls outside (because it ALWAYS snows on Christmas).
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