Friday, December 26, 2014

Yule Log Video, Christmas Trees and The World According to Bella

Any chance you had some time yesterday or on Christmas Eve to listen to holiday music in front of a crackling fire? The Yule Log Video on TV makes it possible for anyone to have this experience. Each Christmas Eve, running 24 hours straight with Christmas music and no commercials, TV screens become blazing fireplaces, thanks to an idea ignited almost 50 years ago. Digital advances now enable computer screens to flicker with flames. A video crackling on a smartphone makes even the loneliest place seem like a cozy retreat. 

A yule log is a large wooden log which is burned in the hearth as a part of traditional Yule or modern Christmas celebration in several European cultures. The custom of burning the yule log goes back to, and before, medieval times. Originally a Nordic tradition, the concept of burning a log was an integral part of Winter Solstice festivals in Scandinavia and other parts of northern Europe, including Germany.

The first “The Yule Log” film was created in 1966 when the president of WPIX-TV in New York City thought residents in fireplace-deprived apartments would appreciate the commercial-free visual. Airing the three-hour program also would let his employees spend Christmas Eve with their families. With musical accompaniment by the likes of Percy Faith, Nat King Cole and the Ray Conniff Singers, the “show” was an immediate success and was rebroadcast for 23 years until 1989, when times were changing and ad revenue was needed. The log was extinguished.

After four years, the original 16 mm film had become worn, and WPIX decided to reshoot the footage on 35 mm film — but the mayor’s office wouldn’t let them return to Gracie Mansion, where the original film was shot because the crew had previously damaged an antique rug. An identical fireplace was found in California, where the current seven-minute loop was filmed.

WPIX canceled “The Yule Log” in 1990, citing the cost of airing the broadcast without commercial interruption. It was revived in 2001 thanks to a fan campaign started by Lawrence F. “Chip” Arcuri and Joe Malzone. The original film was found at the station’s New Jersey archives — mistakenly filed in a “Honeymooners” canister — and digitally remastered (it was converted to HD in 2003). A fourth hour was added to the program in 2009, adding 23 classic holiday songs including Mantovani’s “Adeste Fidelis” and other tunes by Bert Kaempfert, Mitch Miller, Bing Crosby, Vic Damone and Johnny Mathis.

The Yule Log” has adapted to the social media age, with its own Facebook and Twitter  accounts — it even has its own merchandise line of T-shirts, boxers, hats and more.
A number of yule log videos are available on YouTube. One video includes a tasteful greenery-bedecked mantel, another has 
the yule log fireplace with bacon sizzling in the pan and yet another a lego yule log burning. Last year’s hit variation was “Lil BUB’s Magical Yule Log Video”, featuring the famous dwarf cat, or perma-kitten, whose tongue always hangs out because of her condition. Check out youtube for several different Yule Log Videos.

Even though you will now have to wait another year for the return of Yule Log Video there's still plenty of time to sit back and savor the words of Robert Frost in a poem written in 1916 called "Christmas Tree."  An offer from a city man to buy the trees on his land awakens in a country fellow a keener awareness of the value of both his trees and his friends at Christmas.

Christmas Trees 
by Robert Frost

The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to.
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine,
I said, “There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
“I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.”

“You could look.
But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north.
He said, “A thousand.”

“A thousand Christmas trees! —at what apiece? ”

He felt some need of softening that to me:
“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”

Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece) ,
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.

The World According to Bella
Check out my latest story for WWN "On High Alert"
Love, Bella

1 comment:

  1. We turned on the TV on Christmas Eve just to have the blazing fire and holiday music. It was wonderful when you don't have a real fireplace.