One of A.J.’s Christmas presents came from his favorite local menswear store, and they even wrapped it for me. The store, Graves Cox, was established by the current owner’s grandfather in 1888 and is in just its second downtown location since then. The Graves Cox logo sticker on this particular gift was one of theirs I’d never seen before, and I of course had to share it here:

.

.

If you go to the Graves Cox website, scroll down, and click on “Old Store Pictures,” the photo in the lower left shows one of the store’s early horse-drawn delivery vehicles. I may have to ask them if they have more old photos …

These and other hard-working horses in the nation’s capital received a bit of a treat in 1919, when they were presented with a Christmas tree covered in edible decorations.

.

Sorry I missed posting anything yesterday. I was caught up in the holiday: doing some Christmas shopping, going to parties, and anticipating a bit of vacation. Today A.J. and I got our tree, and we’ve just finished decorating it.

Most years, we walk the three or four blocks to our local garden shop / Christmas tree place, pick the cutest, littlest tree left on the lot, and carry it home. And we usually do this on Christmas Eve. But we drove by there this morning, and all their trees were gone. So we ended up having to drive to the next nearest tree lot to bring home a BIG tree instead.
.

image

.
I’ll be taking a break from posting for the next couple of days.

I’m intending to post a few things during the week, but I’ll actually be on vacation … so we’ll see.

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope yours is merry!

This old card is probably my favorite from among my small (but growing!) collection of antique and vintage Christmas cards and postcards.

On the front, a bright yellow Deutsche Post mail coach is trundling through a snowstorm, and dropping Christmas packages along the way. The printed text in the lower left says, “Merry Christmas!” in German, and it’s signed “Jens, Else & Heidi.”

.

.

The interesting thing for me, when I turned the postcard over, is that the addressee lived in Mainz, which is where I lived many years ago. There’s also a lovely old stamp, obscured by the postmark. And both the “departure” and “arrival” postmarks are a bit difficult to read … but the card arrived in Mainz on Dec. 25, 1906.

.

.

One of our CAA members sent this to Jill, and she forwarded it to me, and I thought y’all might enjoy it, too. It’s an excerpt from Time and Again (by Jack Finney, 1995), and this scene takes place in New York City, in 1882.

Doesn’t this sound like fun? …

“Welcome home! Just in time for the sleighing party! Mr. Pickering’s rented two sleighs!” … “Ready?” Felix yelled over his shoulder, and Jake exuberantly shouted back that he was. Their reins snapped simultaneously, both teams dug in, and the harness bells came to life. The runners sliding easily, the horses eased back; then at a second snap of the reins as we rounded the corner onto Twenty-first Street, they tossed their heads, snorting jets of warm breath, and began to trot, obviously enjoying themselves, and now the harness bells sang.

All I can really tell you about the rest of that day and the evening is that it was magical. A dream. The white streets of Manhattan were filled with sleighs; the air everywhere was alive with the music of their bells. … On the walks they were pulling kids on sleds, throwing snowballs, making snowmen; children, adults, old men and women, laughing, calling to each other. And in the streets we passed every kind of sleigh, and we called to them and they to us. We raced them sometimes; once, going up Fifth Avenue, we raced three teams abreast, drivers on their feet, whips cracking, girls shrieking, for nearly two blocks before – sleighs coming the other way – we had to fall into single file cheering and shouting. …

Jake turned impulsively into a cross street just as a sleigh coming south swung in, too. Bells jingling, we trotted along side by side, grinning at each other. It was a big, green-enameled swan’s-neck affair, a beautiful sleigh. They were five kids in their late teens and early twenties, and one of the girls began singing: Dashing through the snow! In a one-horse open sleigh! O’er the field we go! And then all ten of us… Laughing all the way! To the exact rhythm of our horses’ hooves and the jounce of our bells, we lined it out: Bells on bobtail ring! Making spirits bright! What fun it is to ride and sing and it was; oh, Lord, it was – a sleighing song tonight! Then we roared it: Jingle bells, jingle bells! Jingle all the way! Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh! For two blocks – people on the walks calling out to us, kids throwing snowballs at us – we sang. Beside me Julia’s voice was high, a soprano, very clear, very sweet and lovely. At the corner the kids swung south. Waving and yelling at each other, we headed north toward Central Park, both sleighs continuing to sing as long as each could hear the other.

We all flew along the curving roads with hundreds of other sleighs. Fast as we moved, sleighs raced past us, hooves drumming, the runners on one side sometimes actually lifting from the snow on the curves. Some of the drivers carried brass horns they occasionally raised and blew into, producing a single mournful yet somehow exciting blast of brassy sound that hung in the air for a moment afterward.

On through the park then, and out, and far up past it out into actual open countryside – astoundingly, still on Manhattan Island – until finally we stopped at a big wooden inn brilliant with light, shining out on the snow in long quartered rectangles, and the place was filled; there were surely fifty sleighs in a great outside shed, the horses tethered and blanketed. Inside, every table was occupied, the place jammed, the roar of voices and laughter so loud it was almost impossible to talk. Felix had called to me, and I worked my way over to his group. We had sandwiches and hot wine, standing up – there wasn’t a table empty – talking a little over the roar, but mostly just grinning at each other out of sheer sparkling excitement and joy.

Here’s a photo of nearby Louisville … from, um, a while back. There are some horse-drawn vehicles behind the streetcars, on the right. And a ghost of a carriage wheel on the far left. And a LOT of electrical wires.

The big day is just week away, and now that the January issue of the magazine is at the printer (yaaaayyy!!) I feel like I can, um, start to get ready for Christmas!

In honor of the season, and because I don’t have anything else to post here at the moment … here are the Muppets with a couple of classic songs for the season. Enjoy! 🙂

.

.

.

If the embedded videos won’t work on your computer, follow these links to go straight to YouTube to see the Swedish Chef, Beaker, and Animal performing the Carol of the Bells and to see the chickens performing Joy to the World.

(And as a bonus, even though it’s not Christmasy, have you ever seen Beaker performing Ode to Joy??)