Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!!! I freaking love this time of year, it’s my favorite. I know I said that about Halloween, but I don’t care, whatever. Because you know what, I f*cking love Christmas! Back in the day, I used to start listening to Christmas carols in July and I would listen to them allllll night long. I would sleep to them. I shared a room with my little sister, Andrea, and she would try to sneak over to my side of the room to turn them off when she thought I was sleeping. Then like something out of The Exorcist, I would rise up from slumber and threaten her life until she pressed play again. During the month leading up to Christmas, I would write secret letters to Santa until I was about thirteen or so. I would ask him to have Mrs. Claus whip me up a handmade doll of an elf or Santa. It had to be handmade to prove their existence. Never got the GD thing, but still believed in him for forever. A part of my obsession developed as a young child when my Grandma Manos would have me pull out all of her decorations and decorate the shit out of her house. She had the most vintage Christmas gear ever. I can still vividly see the big plastic bells which lit up that we’d hang in her front windows. And her bubble lights, oh my gosh, I was enamored with those. I would sit by the tree and just stare at them. And this was way before I even smoked grass. As I grew, my taste in Christmas music became a bit more sophisticated. I remember driving in the car with my dad and tapping toes to Ella Fitzgerald’s album, A Swinging Christmas. Her renditions of all of our classic holiday tunes are some of my favorite. If you haven’t heard her sing Sleigh Ride or The Christmas Song, then you’re missing out. Ok, enough spoilers – here is my everything Retro Christmas!
The Ceramic Vintage Christmas Tree – This thing was the shit! It was basically Lite Brite on Christmas crack. Our mom would make her own. It’s a bummer that they all broke over the years, but I my memories of these lit up trees are super fond. I bought my own at an antique store in Andersonville last year. I think of her every time I click it on.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV Special from 1964 – I loved the abominable snowman. He was basically a hyper hairy albino Bigfoot that hollered a lot. Now that I think of it, I haven’t seen this one in years….I’ll check that off my to do list this week. Can’t wait!
Frosted Flakes Holiday Wreaths – Hands down one of the best holiday treats there ever was. We’ve been making these every year for as long as I can remember. If you need to whip something up that will be an instant hit with the friends and family, look no further. It’s basically frosted flakes plus food coloring instead of rice crispies. PS. Nicole makes them now for the family each year – she’s a Christmas Wreath Wizard.
Big Ass Retro Holiday Lightbulbs – These things would get so freaking hot. I would literally burn my fingerprints off hanging these at my grandma’s house. I mean, look at the wires on those bad boys – talk about a fire hazard.
Paine’s Fir Balsam Incense and Log Cabin – You guys, our mom would literally smoke out our house with this exact incense all winter long. This shit literally makes your house smell like you’re in the middle of the woods during a massive blizzard with a giant wood burning fire roaring in your living room. It is very hygge. Trust us when we tell you, you want this in your house. Such a cute gift as well.
Freezy Freakies Gloves – Omg that freaking kid makes me laugh so hard I can’t even deal. Who remembers these?
Spritz Cookies – Michelle hates these cookies so much. This was the first year she finally ditched these little a-holes for our cookie exchange and went with some of her better classic cookies. They don’t even taste that good and they would all break, so no one is really sure why our mom made these every year. I don’t feel bad when I say that I am actually glad to see these go. Be gone, Spritz Cookies! Go torture a different family.
Tinsel – The damn worst. The end.
Vintage Illuminated Christmas Characters – Behold! The best decoration there ever was. Every year our mom would take us thru Westchester, a little town near where we grew up, to see all of the holiday decorations. We would go bananas, especially for all these illuminated plastic Christmas characters! I secretly loved the candles that lined the driveways the most.
The Avon Countdown to Christmas – Our mom had this exact “countdown to Christmas” calendar and I loved it! She was hawking and buying Avon, so it’s no wonder. Speaking of, going thru Avon’s catalog was one of my favorite past times. Skin So Soft anyone?
Cloves and Oranges – I have no freaking idea why we did this, but for several years our mom would make us stick cloves in oranges. Anyone know what this is about?
Ella Fitzgerald’s A Swinging Christmas Album – Add this album of holiday tunes to your collection this year. It is magical, fun and upbeat. Plus, Ella’s voice is so soothing and beautiful. Perfect for when you’re freaking the F out before company arrives. You can be vintage yourself and buy the CD or be a little bit more new age and get it off Spotify.
This thing – I really have no idea why we had this contraption, but each year we’d lose a fan until one Christmas there were none left and we never saw this thing again. My brother recently reminded us that sometimes it would straight-up set on fire as well. Side Thought: one of my favorite parts of Christmas Vacation is when Cousin Eddie knocks off all of the fans while wearing his dickie and drinking eggnog out of a moose head.
Bubble Christmas Tree Lights – Bubble lights! These were the best lights that ever existed. My Grandma Manos had a full set. Once those went out, I never saw an entire set again. These scream vintage to me like nothing else.
Pizelles – Or as my siste,r Andrea would call them, pastels. An Italian holiday classic. They are mild in flavor and come in three varieties; anise, vanilla and chocolate. However now that I think of it, I wonder if anyone has whipped up some Peppermint ones. Yum. Since they are so light, you can eat like twenty of them and not worry about a thing.
Pee Wee Herman’s Christmas Special – One of the best Christmas specials to ever exist was this one. Oh my gosh, Pee Wee knows how to throw down a legit holiday party. My sisters have recently showed all of their kids Pee Wee’s special, and needless to say, they are obsessed. It’s literally their new favorite holiday movie. And it’s actually super fun to watch it with them because there are so many old school actors, actresses and singers that guest star. Do it, you’ll be happy you did.
National Lampoons Christmas Vacation – Bow down to the funniest Christmas film of all time. Clark W. Griswold, aka Sparky, is the perfect family man to help get you into the spirit of things. From the beginning, until the very end, this movie is packed with hilarious moments. I do hope you have seen this already, however, if you haven’t yet, your holidays are about to get pee in your pants funnier. I literally get goosebumps when I hear the opening song. Listen above. What’s your favorite part of the movie? #theshittersfull
Ribbon Candy – Listen up. Go to Michael’s and get some dang ribbon candy! It is so delicious, and somehow crunchy and chewy at the same time. Each color is a different flavor and you will basically be catapulted back in time upon eating one. Also makes for a perfect little hostess gift or decor on the dessert table.
The Nativity Scene – June loved her Nativity Scenes. We went thru a few different sets growing up , but at one point we definitely had one that had real hay on it like the one above. For Christmas this year, Nicole bought June her very own new Nativity Scene to put in front of her fire place. It’s beautiful.
Old Fashioned Ribbon and Hard Candy – Anthony and I have this thing we say anytime we see something that reminds us of each other or someone else. This is a perfect situation where we would say, “Oh hey Grandma Manos!” She loved these hard candies. All I remember is that they would wreak havoc on the roof of my mouth. I’m ok to never buy or eat these again.
Prancer the Movie – Prancer, my favorite childhood Christmas movie. Basically, this small town little girl comes across Santa’s reindeer and she takes it upon herself to get him back to the North Pole. It is so freaking cheesy and Michelle hates the lead child actress, but I will watch this every year for the rest of my life regardless. It brings me back to being a kid.
The Advent Wreath – The funny thing about our family is that we went to Catholic school for forever and were forced to go to church every Sunday. We would have to bring back the church newsletter as proof to our parents that we had attended. I’m certain Nicole would grab the pamphlet and smoke cigarettes on the side of the building for the entire hour. We had a wreath in our dining room and I loved lighting the candles. I have to admit, this tradition did not carry on with our families.
This disgusting combination of ingredients – This annual dish also didn’t carry on with our family. I’d share the link to this recipe but all you need is some cocktail sauce, some cooked shrimp and a lump of cream cheese. Oh and Ritz crackers. Yup, my aunts would actually make this as a Christmas Eve appetizer. Vomit.
Ok, what did I miss? What are some of your favorite retro holiday decorations or traditions? Anything goes!
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Thank you for stopping by for some retro Christmas vibes! Hoping you have been having a wonderful holiday season. Love ya’ll! xoxo