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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Arthur's Perfect Christmas

What?  How can there be only one week left until Christmas morning?  Where did the time go?  Whatever will we do?

(Oh.  Wait.  I have my holiday stuff completed.  Nevermind.)

That being said, if you do have time today, why not give Day #18 of A POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR a try?

In fact, I promise you that this TUBE TALK THURSDAY blog entry will not only celebrate Christmas, but a couple of other holidays as well!  I thought that the cartoon Rugrats did a phenomenal job with taking two holidays and merging them together as the Pickles family celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah.  But believe it or not, I found another example of people celebrating different holidays coming together to understand each other's celebrations and traditions.

Would you believe that I happened to come across this special on PBS of all places?  Very intriguing, isn't it?

Anyway, the reason why I wanted to talk about a special that incorporated all holidays is simple.  Yes, there are seven days left until Christmas.  But there are also eight days left until Kwanzaa kicks off on December 26.  And Hanukkah is already in full swing with festivities beginning on December 16.  Even though my family traditions are always centered around Christmas, I would actually love to take part in other holiday celebrations, just so I could learn more about them.

And that's one thing I will say about this holiday special.  The writers did a brilliant job researching all of the different holidays and writing a one-hour holiday special that is intelligent, heartwarming, and most importantly, entertaining.

I'm sure that most of you from a younger demographic than I have seen at least one episode of "Arthur".  The television series debuted in 1996 on PBS and is still going strong today!  The series, of course, was based on the long-running children's book series penned by author Mark Brown that kicked off in 1976 with "Arthur's Nose".

Wait.  Arthur is 38 years old?  Wow, he looks good.  Still has his baby face and everything!

I know.  I josh.  Arthur ages about as slowly as "The Simpsons".  But really, the show is one of PBS' huge success stories.  I wouldn't be surprised if it were one of the most watched shows on PBS alongside "Sesame Street" and "Downton Abbey".

Well, on November 24, 2000, "Arthur's Perfect Christmas" first aired on PBS.  Since then, the show is re-aired on PBS around the holiday season, and has since been released on VHS and DVD.  And, in one word, Arthur's Perfect Christmas is as close to perfection as a children's holidays special could be.

I should probably note that I was nineteen when this special first aired, so I was quite out of the target demographic at this point.  I just happened to come across it when flipping through channels one Christmas Eve, and this happened to be on the air.  I sat and watched it and loved the whole thing.

The title of this special basically describes the main plot of the show.  Arthur wants to have the perfect Christmas celebration ever, and he even made a list of all of the things he wants to have happen for Christmas.


1.  A large amount of snow
2.  An amazing dinner - turkey and the whole works
3.  A spectacular Christmas tree - most importantly, one without tinsel
4.  Everyone will love the presents he gets for them

Wow.  Arthur's Christmas list do I put this...grown-up!  Instead of asking for every toy ever found inside the Sears Wish Book, he asks for some practical things.  I especially love his fourth item on the list.  Isn't that what we all want?  For people to love the gifts that we gave them?  Oh, and on a personal note, I so agree with his third item.  I HATE tinsel on Christmas trees.  Do you know how aggravating it is to vacuum up tinsel that has fallen on the floor?

But does Arthur's Christmas go exactly as planned?  Well...not exactly.  You see, there are other subplots that are unfolding in the community of Elwood City, and these subplots may cause Arthur's Christmas to become less than perfect.

Take Arthur's little sister, D.W., for example.  D.W. only has one thing on her Christmas list this year - Tina the Talking Tabby.  Problem is, she sent her Christmas list out late in the season, and by the time Santa gets the letter, there are no more Tina the Talking Tabby dolls to be found.  Instead, D.W. is given a substitute gift of Quackers the duck, which puts her in a rather foul mood, and causes her to have a self-pity fueled temper tantrum in response.

Uncle Fred is excited to be spending the Christmas holidays in Florida, but his car breaks down in the middle of Elwood City, and he is forced to stay with the Reads family for Christmas instead, which causes his plans to be shelved.

Arthur's friends Muffy and Francine have a huge falling out just before Christmas.  Muffy is set to plan the largest holiday bash ever seen in Elwood City, as her family just happens to be the richest family in Elwood City and can afford to throw a party.  And Muffy insists on inviting the whole school to her party.  The problem is that Francine cannot go.  As Francine is Jewish, her family celebrates Hanukkah, and a key event in their family Hanukkah celebrations coincides with Muffy's party.  And when Francine declines Muffy's invitation, a furious Muffy tells her that she doesn't understand why she won't go, as she doesn't consider Hanukkah to be as important as Christmas.  This naturally ticks Francine off, and she refuses to even have anything more to do with Muffy!

And even the happy-go-lucky Baxter Bunny is having issues getting into the holiday spirit.  Since his parents got divorced, he has found it hard to deal with the new reality that his parents will be separated this Christmas.  Arthur and his friends give Baxter a rather interesting suggestion - create his own holiday and call it Baxter Day.  The idea is met with great trepidation on Baxter's part, but he agrees that it might be worth a try.  But in preparation for the event, Baxter's brain seems to be in overdrive.  And, let's just say that his scrambled egg brain causes him to bake some rather...interesting treats for the homeless shelter residents to whom he delivers goodies to every Christmas.

Elsewhere in the city, Brain's family carry out the traditions of a typical Kwanzaa celebration, and George's family observes Saint Lucia Day to pay tribute to their Swedish heritage.

So, we have a whole lot of different plots and different celebrations going on, and a lot of conflicts between Arthur and his friends.  What do you think happens?

Well, while it lasts on YouTube, why don't you click HERE?  The link will take you to the full episode of "Arthur's Perfect Christmas".  But as I said, you should probably watch it now.  Usually full length episodes don't last too long on YouTube.

Oh, and do stick around.  The final stretch of the advent calendar is fast approaching.  And I have saved the best for last!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I'll Ride With You

You know, it is Day #17 of A POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR, and I have quite a lot on my mind as I type this out.

For whatever reason, I have had a bit of a hard time trying to find my inner Christmas spirit. 

On the outside, I definitely show that I have it.  I have the tree up, I have the presents bought and wrapped already, I've mailed out a few cards, and I have the advent calendar going on strong. 

But something seems to be missing.  And no, it isn't the snow - although I won't lie to you.  I do wish we had more snow for the holidays.  Of course, by January, I want the white stuff gone, but in December it is always nice.

I think it has probably taken the last few weeks for me to finally come up with an answer.  And I write about it in today's WHO AM I WEDNESDAY section.

December 17, 2014

I think that I might be burning myself out on a lot of things.  And that burnout might explain why I am not quite as gung-ho about the holiday season as I used to be when I was younger.

Let's face it.  In our youth, our perception of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any other religious holiday celebrated this month is a lot different than our take as adults.  I cannot speak for other children, but for myself, I know that when I was younger, the holidays were all about good things.  Holidays were about dipping gingerbread cookies in hot chocolate, or trying to guess what kind of presents we were going to get, or watching "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" over and over again.

The holidays were really the only time in the world in which everyone and everything took a break from all that was bad in the world, and came together in peace.

Not so much now.

Over the last couple of months, there has been so much bad news being broadcast on the news, in social media, and on global news websites.  Whether it was the hostage situation in Sydney, Australia, or the recent shootings in Pennsylvania, the news certainly put a damper on what should be one of the calmest and peaceful times of the calendar year.

I certainly am saddened to hear of so much going on in the world at once, and my heart definitely goes out to anyone who was affected by any of these world events.  Nobody deserves to lose a loved one so close to the holidays - especially in such a violent and senseless manner.

Certainly, the world has reacted to both of these incidents with rapid speed.  I suppose one of the beautiful things about the Internet is that we can find out what is going on in the world with just a click of a mouse.  But blessings can also contain hidden curses as well.

Details about the tragedy in Australia are still being released, but what we do know is that in the morning hours of December 15 (Australian time), a man well known to Australian authorities with a chequered past and reported ties to ISIS took several people inside of a cafe in Sydney's downtown core hostage.  The situation lasted for seventeen hours before police stormed the cafe.  In the end, two hostages were killed, as was the hostage taker.  Several others were injured in the melee. 

Again, a terrible situation to have to endure.  Lives forever changed, and a city in mourning.

But I will say that this situation really caused the world to take notice - not so much for the actual event itself, but for how people reacted to it.

Certainly the terrorist group ISIS is a group that shows absolutely no mercy, claiming responsibility for killing people in some of the most brutal ways possible.  And I absolutely agree that the terrorist organization should be infiltrated, dismantled, and destroyed.  Anyone who uses terrorism to gain power should be stopped.

But I think it is also important to point out that ISIS is just a fraction of the millions of people in the world who consider themselves Muslim.  And it is also important to note that as far as I am concerned - and I want to make this perfectly clear - JUST BECAUSE A PERSON IS MUSLIM DOES NOT MAKE THEM ISIS SUPPORTERS!

I would probably even hazard a guess that many people who are Muslim are quite disgusted by ISIS, and they will be the first to point out that ISIS does NOT speak for them.

I suppose that is why I get a little bit ticked off at people who seemingly judge all people by the same brush when it comes to events such as what happened in Australia.  When I see people get bent out of shape because they feel that their right to say "Merry Christmas" has been taken away from them - openly blaming other cultures that may not celebrate Christmas without actually having any fact or reason behind their argument, I'll be blunt.  I want to slap some sense into them. 

If someone wants to wish me a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Happy National Pickle Day, or simply Happy Holidays, I would actually acknowledge the greeting.  In a world that is filled with instant gratification and self-centered tendencies, it is really nice to know that someone would take the time to wish me anything.  I might not celebrate Hanukkah, but I certainly won't run down the street screaming "I CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS, YOU TOOL!" at someone if they did wish me a Happy Hanukkah.

So, why would you post messages like this on your own Facebook page or Twitter feed?  Isn't that kind of the same thing as screaming like a banshee down the street at someone else for their own beliefs?  Just think about it for a second.  Just because a person celebrates holidays a little differently than you doesn't diminish the importance of the holiday.  If anything, I think we should be more open to traditions, and try to include everyone in them.

Because the more we learn about people, the more we can understand them.  And the more that we understand people, I would like to think that we could become better people as a result of it. 

I suppose one could look at Australian resident Rachael Jacobs as being a shining beacon of all good in humanity.  As the hostage crisis in Sydney was still unfolding, she noted in a Twitter post that she was on a train seated next to a Muslim woman who had removed her hijab while they were in motion.  After the train stopped, and both women got off, Rachael ran after the woman and told her that she could put her hijab back on and that she would walk with her until she felt safe. 

Well, wouldn't you know it?  That simple gesture spawned the #illridewithyou hashtag that has taken social media by storm.  It has been retweeted at least a million times by people all over the world, and it basically sends out a message of love and hope to the world.  It tells all people that they don't have to be afraid of backlash.  The Sydney siege was operated by one man who had admittedly turned his back on society years ago.  He was not a representative of an entire group of people.  Why should a whole group of people be attacked because of the callous actions of a few? 

Rachael Jacobs, I commend you for showing all of us what humanity is.  Maybe there is hope after all.

My name is Matthew - and although I am in Canada - I'll Ride With You.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December 16, 1983

Hello, there!  Welcome to Day #16 of THE POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR!

It's also time for another Tuesday Timeline entry, and this entry could not be any more Christmas themed if you tried.

In fact, this entry is sort of a two-parter, if you will.  One of them, I already talked about in this blog...but the other one will be expanded on. 

In the meantime, let us take a look at the events that took place around the world on December 16...including one recent, tragic addition to the list.

1431 - Henry VI of England is crowned King of France at Notre Dame Cathedral

1575 - Valdivia, Chile is hit with an estimated 8.5 magnitude earthquake

1707 - The last recorded eruption of Japan's Mt. Fuji

1773 - The "Boston Tea Party" takes place at Boston Harbor in opposition of the newly implemented tea tax

1775 - "Little Women" author Jane Austen (d. 1817) is born in England

1903 - The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel in Bombay (now Mumbai), India opens to the public

1922 - Polish President Gabriel Narutowicz is assassinated at the Zacheta Gallery in Warsaw

1930 - The plans of bank robber Herman Lamm and his posse were foiled when he and several members of his crew are killed by a 200-strong mob in a failed robbery attempt!

1937 - Two prisoners - Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe - attempt to bust out of Alcatraz Prison; neither are seen again

1947 - The first practical point-contact transistor is invented by William Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter Brattain

1960 - A mid-air collision between a TWA aircraft and an United Airlines flight kills 133 people near Idlewild Airport

1978 - Cleveland, Ohio becomes the first American city since the Great Depression to default on its financial obligations

1989 - Robert Smith Vance - a United States Appeals Court Judge is assassinated via mail bomb, sent by Walter Leroy Moody Jr.

2007 - Singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg dies of cancer at age 56

2009 - Roy E. Disney - brother of Walt Disney - passes away at the age of 79

2013 - Country singer Ray Prices passes away at the age of 87

2014 - The hostage crisis at Sydney, Australia's Lindt Chocolate Cafe ends with the deaths of the hostage taker and two of his hostages

(Our thoughts definitely go out to the victims of the Sydney hostage crisis, and to the entire city of Sydney in what must be a very difficult time.)

Now, onto celebrity birthdays, and December 16 must be the day in which a celebrity baby boom took place.  The following people turn one year older today; Terry Carter, Quentin Blake, Liv Ullmann, Lesley Stahl, Eugene Robert Glazer, Steven Bochco, Patti Deutsch, Benny Andersson, Christopher Ellison, Terence Knox, Christopher Biggins, Billy Gibbons, Xander Berkeley, Prince Lorenz of Belgium, Katie Leigh, Alison LaPlaca, Larry Poindexter, Gretchen Palmer, Sam Robards, Jon Tenney, Melanie Smith, Benjamin Bratt, Georgie Parker, Paul Vogt, Todd Glass, Nancy Valen, Donovan Bailey, Miranda Otto, Peter Dante, Florencia Lozano, Daniel Cosgrove, Paul Leyden, Scott Storch, Benjamin Kowalewicz, Jonathan Scarfe, Krysten Ritter, Frankie Ballard, and Hallee Hirsh.

Whew, I am exhausted!!!

After all that, I don't know if I even have the energy to continue this blog! 

Well, okay, you know I do!

And the special date we will be looking at will be December 16, 1983!

Now, as explained up above, this date is a special one because two major things took place that day.  And interestingly enough, both involve Disney!

First things first, we'll get the event that I already talked about on this blog out of the way.  Remember how a couple of weeks ago, I talked about Charles Dickens and how one of his most famous works was "A Christmas Carol"?  Well, it was on this day thirty-one years ago that the Mickey Mouse version of that classic tale first aired.

"Mickey's Christmas Carol" was first released on December 16, 1983.  It was the retelling of the classic tale starring "Uncle" Scrooge McDuck as Ebenezer Scrooge, and Mickey Mouse as Bob Cratchit.  It became a huge holiday success for Disney and at the peak of its popularity aired annually on NBC for years during "The Wonderful World of Disney" time slot.

But did you know that wasn't the only Disney related item to debut on December 16, 1983? 

For this one, we will have to think bigger.  Like, how about Walt Disney World bigger.  In fact, this event has been held annually at the Magic Kingdom for the past thirty-one years.  Anyone who has ever vacationed at Walt Disney World during the holiday season over the last three decades might have some fond memories of fun, joy, and happy memories.

(And, one day, I wouldn't mind experiencing some of that joy at Disney World myself.)

But it was on this date thirty-one years ago that a Christmas party was first held in Walt Disney World.  And it was a fine celebration to be had for sure. 

And the mouse that helped build the Disney empire was the main toastmaster.

Yes, it was back in 1983 that the very first "Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party" was held in Walt Disney World Resorts in Orlando, Florida.  And unlike most Christmas parties, this one lasted several days.  In recent years, the event has expanded to include dates in November as well, but one thing you can definitely count on.  There is always going to be some special Christmas magic held each night the Christmas party festivities are observed.

The Christmas Party events are not held each night.  Only a select few dates are chosen to host the various celebrations going on.  But if you happen to be in the park on one of these nights between the hours of 7:00pm and 12:00am, you will be able to take part!

Well, provided you have a ticket to go.  The tickets to attend the Christmas party cost extra.  I suppose that even Mickey Mouse has to keep his Christmas parties somewhat exclusive.

Of course, if you can get in, here are some of the things that you can take part in.

Every night the party is held, you will have the chance to watch a very special parade.  Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade - contrary to its name - is often held twice a night (weather permitting, of course).  The parade travels down Main Street U.S.A., and features a selection of Disney characters mixed with Christmas images.  Just looking at some of the pictures of the parade, I have to admit, it does look beautiful.

There is also a standard display of fireworks that go off during each night that the party is held.  Cinderella's castle turns the same colour as a Christmas tree, and the "Holiday Wishes" fireworks display lights up the night!

Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother used to play a very pivotal role in Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.  They would light up the castle with nearly two hundred thousand lights so that people could see it lit up from a distance.  But in 2014, Cinderella took a back seat as Elsa, Anna, Olaf, and the other characters from "Frozen" took over the "Dream Lights" segment of the party.

If you ever dreamed of dancing to Christmas songs with some of your favourite Disney characters, you have plenty of opportunity to shake your groove thing on the dance floor.  There are a couple of nights where a dance party is held.  You can get up close and personal with your favourite characters from "Toy Story" if you like.

Of course, the park has several Disney characters wandering around the park in holiday outfits for you to meet, greet, and snap a picture with, if you like.  If you're lucky, you might even get a chance to see some characters who don't visit Disney World all that often.

Rides also stay open during the Christmas party - somewhat.  Some of the more popular attractions will remain open (but without the FastPass option), but since they change each year, it is impossible to tell what attractions will get the green light to stay open all night long.  I can tell you that in the past, the Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, and the Jungle Cruise (renamed Jingle Cruise for the holidays) have opened up on party nights.

And, don't worry about getting hungry during the event.  Apparently vendors scattered all over the park will give you cookies and cups of hot chocolate whenever you want a sugar rush!  Hey, I wonder if the stands will be run by Taffeta Muttonfudge or Vanellope Von Schweetz this year?

Wow...after doing research on this blog, I really want to go now!  It certainly looks like a lot of fun for kids of all ages.

And this annual Disney tradition began thirty-one years ago today!

Coming up on Day #17 - a WHO AM I WEDNESDAY entry that will have some sort of Christmas reference to it.  What that will be...I still have to work on.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Letters to Santa - FUNNY MONDAY Style

How many of you remember writing letters to Santa Claus as a child?  I think I probably have written my fair share as a kid.  Some of them were published in the newspaper, while others were sent to Santa's address in the North Pole.

I even know his postal code by heart.  H0H 0H0!  I honestly don't know if Santa is still accepting letters from children, as it is ten days before Christmas.  But, I guarantee you that if you did mail him a letter, if you were a good boy, you almost always got a reply back!

Of course, the vast majority of letters to Santa Claus contain items that all of us wanted for Christmas that year.  Most of mine contained requests for items that admittedly tested Santa's patience (not to mention bank account), but I have to admit it.  Whether I received the items I asked for or didn't, I still had fun writing the letter.

And this has inspired the topic for Day #15 of THE POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR.  Letters to Santa.

Well...letters to Santa with a FUNNY MONDAY twist to it.

That's right.  I have scourged the Internet for the funniest, weirdest, and just plain disturbing letters to Santa Claus ever penned.  Needless to say, I would never have the guts to be so bold in a letter to Santa Claus, but these fifteen children were.

As always, credit for the images displayed here go to Pinterest,, Huffington Post,, and

Okay, so let's see what some of these children requested on their Christmas lists, shall we?

1.  Either this kid wants to redecorate his bedroom, build the coolest tree fort ever, or open up a Chuck E. Cheese.

2.  Hey, at the age of one, did YOU know what would make you happy?  Apparently Jimmy Dean is the toddler whisperer...

3.  I like how this kid snuck in "something evil" among the various robot requests.  Could there possibly be a more obsessive child?

4.  Well, to be fair, this letter was likely written back in 2008 when Hannah Montana was still relevant and before Miley Cyrus made twerking a new dance craze...

5.  The handwriting is off, but I am fairly sure that this child meant to ask what the biggest cookie he's ever eaten.  Though, to be fair, I have never eaten a cootie.  For all I know, they could taste like chicken.

6.  I think "Jennifer" is a pseudonym for "Jillian Michaels".

7.  When your letter turns into a midterm exam, you know that it's not good.

8.  Such anger.

9.  If this person is really sincere about changing his ways, he could use that $5.3 billion to eliminate the debt that Ontario is currently in.  Just saying.

10.  True story.  I did ask for batteries in one of my letters to Santa.  This kid is one smart cookie, as far as I am concerned!

11.  Let's see...this kid wants to turn into a dragon, or wants to own a dragon, and then he wishes Santa a Happy Valentine's Day.  Yep, sounds legitimate.

12.  Can't write?  Let Walmart help.  At least this person took the economy into consideration and used the flyer for Walmart instead of Jared, Kay, or Zales.

13.  Is this a death threat?!?  Wow.

14.  I am guessing that this child did not get his Christmas wishes granted.  I am also guessing by the random uses of Comic Sans MS font that words were substituted in because the real words would make an elf blush.

15.  Interestingly enough, this was Santa's reply back to letter #14 - apparently it was so traumatic that Johnny changed his name to Susan. 

And, so ends another FUNNY MONDAY special, as well as the fifteenth day of the calendar.  Coming up tomorrow, another holiday themed Tuesday Timeline entry!

NOTE:  These letters may or may not be real.  Either way, they were still fun to read.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Peppermint Kandy Kids - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Do any of you remember having a Christmas album that for whatever reason sticks with you?  A holiday soundtrack that takes you back to a carefree time in which you were, say, seven years old?  A soundtrack that makes you remember fond memories such as writing a letter to Santa Claus, watching "A Garfield Christmas" on television, and chewing the corners off of all of your Christmas gifts in hopes that you could tell what gifts you were going to get before Christmas came.

(For the record, yes, I did do all of those things right down to the corner chewing.  It's a wonder that I didn't get a lump of coal for that particular Christmas!)

Anyway, for Day #14 of THE POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR, I am going to share with you a memory of a holiday album that I can remember from way back when.  Interestingly enough, the album technically wasn't mine, but I listened to it enough that I still have great memories of it.

And to think that I had no idea who the singers were until just a few months ago!  But, we will get to that a little bit later.

Anyway, getting back to the subject of holiday albums that made a permanent imprint on your childhood Christmases, I want to ask you all a question.  What was that album for you?

Perhaps it was Dave Seville and his trio of chipmunks singing about how Christmas time was here, and how Alvin wanted a hula hoop.  Or, maybe you were dancing along to the classic tale of a dog named Snoopy going up against the Red Baron.  Or, maybe you were trying to imitate the dance that 3, 4, and 5 were dancing along to during a rousing chorus of "Linus and Lucy".

I honestly don't know if I ever really owned a Christmas album in its entirety.  I suppose that if you counted that group that called themselves the Mini-Pops, I could say that I did own at least one album. 

(The Mini-Pops were a group of kids between the ages of seven and thirteen who usually sang pop classics, but released a Christmas album circa 1985.  The Mini-Pops still exist today, but I would assume that they would be the children of the original Mini-Poppers.  A 42-year-old a Mini-Pop does not make.)

Oh, and I suppose I could also add the album "A Very Special Christmas", which was released in 1987 to my list of holiday albums that stuck with me as well.  It is the only complete Christmas album that I have downloaded onto my iPod, and it contains classic hits performed by Whitney Houston, The Pointer Sisters, Bryan Adams, and U2, among others.

But when it comes to Christmas albums, my older sister certainly had her fair share of them.  She has Christmas music playing at her house all the time during the month of December, and I am fairly sure that she still has her original record (yes, I said record) of "Do They Know It's Christmas" by Band-Aid.

But interestingly enough, one album that I remember vividly was an album that was released nine years before I was born.  And yet, I probably heard that album so much during my childhood that it seemed brand new to me.

By the time I was old enough to use a ghetto blaster, I knew what that Christmas tape looked like.  Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out who the artists were that sang on it.  The cassette tape was purchased back in the 1970s, and the writing that listed the songs on the cassette had rubbed out a long time ago.  To me, it didn't look any different from a blank cassette tape that one would purchase from Radio Shack.

That mystery would remain until about a year ago.  Back in the 1980s, it was near impossible to find out information about older albums unless you were lucky enough to check out the right book from the public library.  Thanks to the Internet, finding information out has never been easier.

I had a couple of leads to go on.  I couldn't remember what all the songs were that were listed on the album, but I did know two.  One was "Up On The Housetop", and the other one was a song called "Santa's Magical Bag".

Of course, "Up On The Housetop" is a standard Christmas classic, so trying to search for that song would have been like finding a needle in a haystack.  But I knew that "Santa's Magical Bag" seemed like a more unique title.  I think that back in the 1970s - when the album was first released - it sounded like it would have been a contemporary Christmas song for its time.  So, I opted to search for that song on Google to see if I could find the album.

And wouldn't you know it?  It took me to this video.

It also gave me the name of the album and group that did all of the songs for this album.  The name of the album was "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town", released by Peter Pan Records in 1972.

And the name of the group that sang all of these songs was "The Peppermint Kandy Kids". 

So, now that I had the album name, as well as the group that recorded the album, I tried to find out more information about the group.  Unfortunately, I came up with very little information.  There's not even a Wikipedia entry on the group, which is quite surprising to me. 

I did come to find out that "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" was not their only holiday release.  Would you believe that this group released no less than five holiday albums in the early 1970s?  I couldn't tell if they were released all at once, or if they were released separately, but it appears that all five of them were released between 1971 and 1973.

For reference, here are the other titles released by the Peppermint Kandy Kids.


(NOTE:  The colours of the titles represent the colours of the original album covers.)

I also discovered that each of these albums were re-released and re-recorded in the late 1970s.  How you could tell the difference between the original album and the re-release?  The second print albums incorporated dialogue in between songs so that it appeared as though they were telling a story.  This tells me that my sister had the 1977 re-release, as I vividly remember there being narrative in between songs.

It was actually quite cool the way that they did it, as the narrative made it appear as though it was taking place at the North Pole just before Santa's 24-hour long sleigh ride on Christmas Eve.  I seem to remember hearing Santa and Mrs. Claus's voices on the tape, which I have to admit made me smile as a kid.

I suppose that based on that, the Peppermint Kandy Kids were sort of like the Mini-Pops of the 1970s.  After all, most of the songs were recorded by grade school aged children.  But unlike the Mini-Pops in which you were a has-been by the age of fourteen, the Peppermint Kandy Kids did allow adults to sing along with the children.  After all, a 10-year-old playing Santa Claus would have been very unrealistic.

But you know...even though the albums were more or less filler on album shelves during the 1970s, the Peppermint Kandy Kids were a huge part of Christmas in my family.  And, as a special treat for all of you, I found some more of the songs from that album that I will post for you below.  Maybe some of you who owned that album too will remember it as well.

There's only a few days left in the advent calendar.  And on Day #15, I aim to make you laugh.  Whether I will succeed...well, we'll find out tomorrow.