December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

This was the first TV Guide I ever bought other than as part of a subscription, or before that when we bought it at the grocery store. I saw it at an antique show in one of the malls - the Har Mar Mall, as I recall - and after looking through it was immediately captivated. It wasn't just the midcentury-era poinsettia on the front; it was the amount of detail in the program listings for Christmas -well, for everything, as a matter of fact. It has had a profound effect on me; not only did it start me on the road to collecting TV Guides (beginning with the Christmas issues, before spreading to the feature you read about every week), it got me into looking for these shows on DVD. I've got a fair number of the Christmas programs from this 1962 issue, but it's expanded to include so many more that I'd previously only read about in the pages of an issue of TV Guide. It's become a most rewarding part of my life.

Since then, I've managed to accumulate a pretty fair number of Christmas issues.  Some of them are inevitably disappointing, given the direction television - and popular culture at large - had taken, even by the mid-70s. I don't believe I've written about this one yet, for example, even though I have two copies of it, from different markets. It's partly because I never warmed to the typography and layout of the '70s issues (this one being from 1974), partly because my own perception of Christmas changed as I grew out of being a kid, but there's no doubt that we see the day changing in the way it's covered by TV Guide. Certainly the picture on the cover says "Christmas," but even here it's not the fun, colorful iconography that one sees on earlier issues. Would I get rid of it, though? Not on your life!

This was, I think, the second Christmas issue I purchased. It comes from 1963, the year after the golden issue at the top. While it isn't as special to me as that issue, it was another important issue as far as the evolution of my becoming a TV aficionado, for it includes the Tennessee Ernie Ford special The Story of Christmas, including a color layout from the animated segment that makes up such a major part of the program. It was my search for information about the animation - I was merely hoping there might have been some Christmas cards made from it - that led me to find the DVD of the program. It was one of the first vintage television shows I purchased, one of the first times that i was even aware such programs could be found in their entirety and not as a part of a highlights show. There are still times when I can't quite believe I have it, that the original broadcast-quality version of a 50 year-old show is something you can buy.

I don't know why I didn't save more Christmas TV Guides than I did; I have plenty from New Year's, probably because of the football bowl games, but I hadn't saved one from Christmas Day itself. Looking back on them, it's stunning to see how much recognition there is of the religious aspect of Christmas. I think it's this 1958 issue that actually has a special section devoted to religious programming, and the cover includes some explicit religious iconography in its wonderful collection of Christmas images. I was fortunate to find issues like this early in my TV Guide search; at this point, when I would go through bins of issues in various antique stores, I always started out looking for the Christmas ones before going on to other issues. That's why some of my most important finds were accidental buys: they were issues I "settled" for after I'd exhausted the holiday issues - Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.

This is my most recent purchase, and also the oldest Christmas issue I own - 1957. It's another one of those "bonus" issues, in that I was looking online for issues to fill in the gaps for the coming year's articles. In the course of that search I ran across this issue; it was not only from the right part of the country, it was quite affordable compared to some of these issues, and the decision to purchase was a pretty easy one. I think this will be the issue you'll be reading about next year at this time, though I could be mistaken; I have other Christmas issues you haven't seen here, and there are still more that I'd like to get, so it's entirely possible this one will be bumped down a year or two while some newer acquisition takes its place. We'll just have to see.

You just read about this one on Saturday (I hope), so I won't rehash the details, but this is such a happy cover - growing up in Minnesota, where there was rarely anything other than a White Christmas, it says everything about December and Christmas, the sparkle and brightness. I wish they made issues like this today, but I think it's a futile wish.

But today's not a day for fussing; it's for celebrating the most wonderful day of the year, and I couldn't think of a better way than this to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas. See you tomorrow to start looking forward to the New Year!

1 comment:

  1. A fantastic tribute to TV Guides of Christmases past.

    A belated Merry Christmas to you Mitchell and all your readers.


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