Christmas in Billings, Montana 1954

Christmas in Billings, Montana 1954

Early last week, James Carroll of Tyler, Texas, came to Billings for the second time in his life. It was an enjoyable visit, but it was hard to top that first one, on Christmas Eve 1954. Carroll was a 23-year-old Army private at the time, just out of basic training at Fort Bliss, Texas, on his way to Seattle on a troop train. From Seattle he shipped out to Alaska, where he would serve for the duration of his two-year enlistment. The train stopped in Colorado to pick up some more troops, bringing the number of soldiers to somewhere betweenRead more

Jimmy Stewart Talks About It’s a Wonderful Life

Jimmy Stewart Talks About It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s A Wonderful Life has reached such a point of saturation in American Christmas culture we can practically quote it line by line. But even still we cannot get enough of it. Even though Jimmy Stewart has been gone now for many years we can read of his memories and share in interviews he did about the film long after it was produced. In this clip, Mr. Stewart chats with Johnny Carson and we hear from Richard Dreyfus as well as Carol Burnett as they talk about the power of It’s A Wonderful Life:

Legend of the Christmas Pants

Legend of the Christmas Pants

By Jeff Westover It began as a simple, thoughtful gift. Back in 1964, Larry Kunkel’s mother thought he’d appreciate a nice new pair of moleskin pants. He didn’t. Living in Minnesota, the pants were prone to stiffness in the freezing weather of the winter months. So Larry pawned the pants off on his brother-in-law, Roy Collett, as a gift the very next Christmas. But Roy didn’t care for them either. So he returned the favor and the pants the following Christmas. And thus the game began. Each year, as Christmas approached, Larry and Roy contemplated those pants. For the giver,Read more

Old Man Kramer

Old Man Kramer

By Elise Jenson He lived next door to me through all the years I was growing up and I thought he was the meanest man in the world. Mr. Kramer had thick, dark black hair and bushy eyebrows that dominated his tiny dark eyes. He was fair skinned, some would say pale. A prominent nose and a weak chin made his whole look a bit creepy. But it was his sour demeanor that really scared me. He looked mean and he acted mean. Mr. Kramer did not socialize with the neighbors. He often puttered about his garage or worked inRead more

How to Fit the Tree in the Car

How to Fit the Tree in the Car

By Oberon This is a hoot and a real treat for Christmas, made all the better because it is entirely true. It takes a bit of getting through, but stick with it. It’s worth it, I promise. A few Christmases back I was delegated to buy the family Christmas Tree, and, as is my habit, I kept putting it off until it was almost too late. Every day I would pass a little grocery shop on my way to work where the owner had piled a load of Christmas trees on the pavement for sale. One morning a couple ofRead more

My Little Lie

My Little Lie

By Max Schilling We were in love that Christmas. Brenda was 19, I was 22. As students, we didn’t have much. We were kids, really. We didn’t know much. But we were both away from home, still trying to figure out who we were and who we would yet become. And somewhere along the line we found each other. Actually, I had no choice but to pursue her. I worked part time in a convenience store and she came in one night to pay for her gas. Her smile melted me and her eyes just danced. I had pretty muchRead more

Grandpa’s Christmas Tree Hunt

Grandpa’s Christmas Tree Hunt

By Lawrence Hawkes My father was born when my grandfather was 71 years old. By the time I was born in 1968, my grandpa was well into to his 90s and very hard of hearing. Because he could not hear he did not talk much. But I do recall him telling me once about his father, who had served the Union in the Civil War and lost his left arm at the battle of Gettysburg. As a boy we lived where my father and his father grew up – on the old family farm in remote northwestern Wyoming. In laterRead more

Just Say Merry Christmas

Just Say Merry Christmas

By Denise Richardson (As told to MMC Editor Jeff Westover, September 2011) Carla was the strongest woman I had ever known. I once saw her take on a snarling mechanic who attempted to force a brake job on her that she didn’t need. Carla wasn’t a big lady but when she got her back up you didn’t want to cross her. That mechanic learned that the hard way. So as we sat there in the doctor’s office it came as no surprise to me that she took the news with her chin out and her shoulders squared. Any other personRead more

Nothing

Nothing

By Jeff Westover The first Christmas for us really wasn’t so hard. After all, we were in love and there was nothing else more important. Sure, being a couple changed the holidays for us but wasn’t everything else different too? It wasn’t until life and routine settled upon us that it got difficult. First came one baby and then another. Living off my meager wages so that my dear wife could be home with the kids made things a little tough. We felt lucky to provide them with socks and underwear for Christmas. There just wouldn’t be anything left overRead more

That’s How You Eat Gravy

That’s How You Eat Gravy

By Vance James One of my best Christmas memories comes from when I was about nine years old. But I have to warn you: this is not a feel good Christmas story. It is kind of gross. After getting up early and opening our presents it was a family tradition to meet at my aunt’s house in the afternoon for Christmas dinner. Everyone who lived closed by would come. I remember this being an adult affair and for those of us under the age of 18 that meant being mostly bored. We usually would bring one of our Christmas presentsRead more