My Childhood Memories of Christmas in the 1960s

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Wishing for Toys for Christmas

Christmas was SO exciting when I was a child in the early 1960s. Our family lived in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, so it was always cold and we always had snow.

We weren't allowed to mention Christmas until after Thanksgiving. Then we got to look through the Sears Christmas Wish Book catalog and make our lists.

The first Sears Christmas Wish Book catalog was published in 1933. It had 25 pages of toys and 62 pages of gifts for adults.

By 1968, the Wish Book had 225 pages of toys and 380 pages of gifts for adults. Of course, all we looked at were the toys!

We always had a real Christmas tree and our trees looked a lot like the one in the photo. Photo from Wikipedia.

1969 Sears Catalog Christmas Wish Book

1960s / Retro Toys I Played With as a Child

Amazon has many other vintage toy reproductions

The Christmas Season in Grade School

Decorated Christmas Tree image at AllPosters.com We made paper chains to decorate our classroom. We cut strips all the same size from green and red colored paper. To begin making our chain, we first rolled one paper strip into a circle and glued the ends together. When the glue dried, we took another strip of paper of the opposite color and looped it through the first ring and glued the ends shut. We did this over and over.

Later, our teacher joined all our individual chains together to make a really long chain that was hung near the ceiling and went all the way around the room.

Each classroom had a real Christmas tree and we kids decorated it with paper or clay ornaments we made at school. Our teacher also brought cranberries and popped corn, which we threaded to make chains for the tree. We were certainly proud of our class room and the live tree smelled good.

We thought it was fun to thread small jingle bells through our shoe laces so that we jingled as we walked. I’m sure the teachers got tired of hearing them, but at least they never told us to remove them.

We’d sing Christmas songs in class almost every day; some for fun like “Frosty the Snowman” and “Jingle Bells”, and some religious songs, like “Silent Night” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”.

On the last day of school before the Christmas break, we had a Christmas party with punch and cookies. About a week before the party, we drew pieces of paper that said “boy” or “girl”. There was probably a note sent home to parents limiting the amount of money spent. Everyone seemed to get the same type gifts.

Popular gifts were coloring books, picture books, crayons, and Life Saver books (they opened up and there were 5 rolls of Life Saver candy on each side of the “book”.

One year I received a picture book called “Fuzzy Wuzzy”. He was a bear and he was featured on the cover and throughout the book with “fuzz” on his body. I liked the book so much, I wrapped it up again when I got home and put it under our tree.

Image of Decorated Christmas Tree can be purchased at AllPosters.com

Christmas Time in our Neighborhood

Child Whispering to Santa OUTDOOR LIGHTS

Our parents didn’t decorate the outside of our house, but one night before Christmas, our dad would drive us around through nearby neighborhoods to see the outdoor Christmas lights.

Many houses had lights with a variety of colors, and some had lights with only alternating red and green bulbs. But during the latter part of my grade school years, it became popular to string all blue lights on your house and I liked those best. The outdoor Christmas lights in those days were larger than the small twinkle lights popular now and the color was painted on glass bulbs, instead of the plastic bulbs made today.

SANTA AT THE FIRE STATION

Our neighborhood was small and had a volunteer fire department. Every year, Santa came to the fire station and every kid in the neighborhood went to see him and we each got a bag of candy. I don’t remember what other kinds of candy were in the bag, but there were some large cream drops with a chocolate coating I didn’t like much. Of course I still ate the chocolate drops, but only after I ate everything else first.

Photo from Wikipedia

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Our Christmas Tree and Christmas Stockings

Black and white photo of Christmas tree CHRISTMAS TREE

We always had a real tree at home. At that time, Christmas tree light bulbs were larger than the ones today. The bulbs were the size used today in night-lights. They were painted blue, green, red, orange, and yellow and the colors were alternated throughout the string. Silver strand tinsel was also popular and my mother used plenty of it. Our tree ornaments were glass balls; some with indentations, some with scenes, some with glitter. And we always had a lighted star at the top. The tree sure made the house smell good!

None of our relatives lived nearby, so we received presents in the mail. It was exciting to come home from school and check if there were any new presents under the tree.

CHRISTMAS STOCKINGS

There were four kids in our family and we didn’t have special Christmas stockings. We each got a pair of our own socks and pinned them together at the top with a safety pin. Then we pulled a kitchen chair into the living room and put our socks over the back, one sock on each side of the chair back. The next morning our stockings usually held a banana and orange, a little candy, and then some small toy. I remember getting a birthstone ring one year.

Photo by Flare on Flickr.

Mr. Potato Head TV Commericial

Vintage Original Mr and Mrs Potato Head commercial 1960's
by VintageTVCommercials | video info
322 ratings | 188,995 views
curated content from YouTube

Barbie TV Commercial

60s Barbie Mix 'n Match tv commercial by Mattel
by Monja Effe | video info
68 ratings | 28,228 views
curated content from YouTube

Waiting for Bedtime on Christmas Eve

Emblem for Norad Tracks Santa It was so hard to wait until bedtime so Santa could come. There was usually one or two Christmas shows to watch on TV like “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” or “Frosty the Snowman”, but they didn’t last long. So each year I got a new coloring book and crayons. I colored each page slowly to pass the time.

About 30 years later, a group of people I work with were all talking about Christmas. I told them about some of my childhood memories. A couple of weeks later, I came to work and there was a coloring book and box of crayons on my desk! I was so surprised. Now, this is a good ADULT memory.

TRACKING SANTA AROUND THE WORLD

On Christmas Eve, we would listen to the radio as the announcer tracked Santa Claus on radar. About every fifteen minutes or so, an announcement came on stating where Santa was seen. He never was seen in the United States before it was time for us to go to bed.

Information below is from Wikipedia

According to NORAD’s official web page on the NORAD Tracks Santa program, the service began on December 24, 1955. A Sears department store placed an advertisement in a Colorado Springs newspaper. The advertisement told children that they could telephone Santa Claus and included a number for them to call.

However, the telephone number printed was incorrect and calls instead came through to Colorado Spring’s Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Center. Colonel Shoup, who was on duty that night, told his staff to give all children who called in a “current location” for Santa Claus. A tradition began which continued when the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) replaced CONAD in 1958. For more information,

More information about Norad on Wikipedia. Image also from Wikipedia

Chatty Cathy TV Commercial

Vintage Chatty Cathy toy doll TV Commercial 1960's
by VintageTVCommercials | video info
596 ratings | 423,103 views
curated content from YouTube

Childhood Christmas Presents

Family on Christmas Morning FAMILY CHRISTMAS PRESENTS

My sister and I shared a room and all during the night we kept going to the bathroom so we could peek through to the entrance to the living room and report what we could see. We couldn’t see too much because it was dark, but the bathroom light was always kept on, so that helped. On Christmas morning, we weren’t allowed to go into the living room until everyone was up and dressed. Our older brother deliberately took his time.

Our presents from Santa Claus were arranged around the kitchen chair where we had hung our stockings. Most of what we received were things we marked in the Sears Catalog Wish Book, but we didn’t catch on. I remember also getting books, comic books, candy, crayons, pencils, drawing paper, and sometimes a doll.

We had to eat breakfast before we could go to our rooms with our presents. Since we all received books and comic books, all we wanted to do was read and eat candy.

We loved getting candy because we rarely had any throughout the year except for what we bought with our allowance. I remember hard candy that was shaped like a ribbon and hard to eat without drooling. And I always got a barber pole type peppermint stick. This stick was about 12″ long and about as big around as a half dollar. We also had hard candy of different shapes and sizes; sometimes with a chewy center. There were bowls of nuts (we had to crack them), and oranges, bananas, and apples.

PRESENTS I BOUGHT

We received 20 cents a week for our allowance, so I only bought Christmas presents for my Mother and Dad.

I always bought my mother perfume. Sometimes I bought a little cobalt blue bottle that I believe was called Evening in Paris. Other years I bought a little bottle of perfume shaped like a lamp. The bottle was made of colored glass and it had a matching plastic shade. I don’t remember the scent – I just liked the shape.

My dad smoked a pipe, so I always bought him a pouch of Bull Durham or can of Prince Albert tobacco. At that time, they let kids buy tobacco and cigarettes (for our parents).

Photo of Family on Christmas can be purchased at AllPosters.com

What Was Your Favorite Christmas Toy?

(not just from the 1960s)

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  • LynnKK Mar 23, 2014 @ 11:43 am
    Oh, my, I had a Chatty Cathy. Fairly creepy now to think back about it. I also remember how magical Christmas was in the 1960s. Not sure it was quite the same for my boys in the 1990s and 2000s. Hope so, but it is a different world.
  • skiesgreen Jan 02, 2014 @ 11:01 pm
    Nice recall of a great time. Congrats on LOTD. Well done.
  • ChrisBroome Dec 31, 2013 @ 2:50 pm
    Boy - I remember my 1960s Christmas'. In our household we didn't put up a Christmas Tree because we were taught the Santa Claus brought it! So not only did we get gifts on Christmas morning, but we awoke to an amazing, shimmering tree! Funny how I never questioned my mother when she took it down after the holidays and put the decorations away but then life was so innocent for me. I can't remember any one specific toy that I got but I always remember seeing the Christmas Tree for the first time on Christmas morning. That made it so very much more special than nowadays when it goes up right after Thanksgiving. Maybe I should bring that tradition back?!
  • campingman Dec 30, 2013 @ 10:50 pm
    Odd Ogg....a bean bag toss game
  • flora-crew Dec 30, 2013 @ 12:33 am
    I was born in 1948 and I was 12 by the time the 60's hit but I remember my older cousin telling me about how they let my younger cousin listen to the radio report about Santa's whereabouts before they shooed him to bed. Santa would put unwrapped candy in my sock and it would stick. I also remember the small allowances and always buying my maternal uncle, who lived with us, cuff links. Remember cuff links?

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Have a Vintage Christmas

You can find many products about an old fashioned or vintage Christmas on Amazon.

Most Popular 1960s Christmas Record Albums

~~ 1960 - Christmas Sing-Along with Mitch, by Mitch Miller & the Gang.

~~ 1961 was Holiday Sing Along with Mitch, by Mitch Miller & the Gang.

~~ 1962 was Merry Christmas, by Johnny Mathis.

~~ 1963 was The Andy Williams Christmas Album, by Andy Williams.

~~ 1964 - The Andy Williams Christmas Album, by Andy Williams.

~~ 1965 - The Little Drummer Boy: A Christmas Festival, by the Harry Simeone Chorale.

~~ 1966 was Merry Christmas, by Andy Williams.

~~ 1967 was A Christmas Album, by Barbra Streisand.

~~ 1968 was That Christmas Feeling, by Glen Campbell.

~~ 1969 was Jim Nabors' Christmas Album, by Jim Nabors.

Information from Wikipedia

More Traditional Christmas Music

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