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HISTORICALLY CY-FAIR – Feelings and Images of Christmas

| December 1, 2016

A vintage pressure cooker advertisement featuring Santa.

A vintage pressure cooker advertisement featuring Santa.

The Christmas season conjures up unique feelings and images in all of us. No two people would share exactly the same concept of the season. It is shaped by family tradition and also by the barrage of images that we experienced in our formative years. In reading letters from the early 1900s, people in the Cypress area often refer to having a “Christmas tree” at church. Such trees were decorated with small packages for the children. Nativity re-enactments were not mentioned, likely because everyone had one just behind the house in their barn. Almost no one had Christmas trees at home, and rural folks like those in Cypress, which was a prairie at the time, would not have had access to a suitable tree nor electricity for safe lighting. They would exchange modest gifts and have a special dinner. But few of us today would hardly think people in that era celebrated Christmas at all.

‘Twas the Night before Christmas was published in 1823 and presented a more secular and commercialized Christmas. However, it took retailers about a hundred years to embrace Santa Claus as a marketing tool. I grew up in the 1950s, and my images of Christmas and Santa Claus revolve around Coca Cola advertising and the Santa at the Foley’s Department Store in downtown Houston, and of course watching Miracle on 34th Street every year, too. But there was still a traditional Santa in the local mall and
in Coca Cola commercials. By 1999, Coca Cola would move to polar bears while Budweiser and Hallmark would corner the market of sentimental Christmas commercials, but none would employ Santa.

In the Cypress Top Historic Park Juergen Store Museum are many examples of Christmas advertising which spans decades. This holiday season stop by the museum and see how many memories of Christmas past you can conjure up. Merry Christmas to all!

If you would like to learn more about American, Texas or Cypress history, visit Commissioner Steve Radack’s Cypress Top Historic Park at 26026 Hempstead Highway, open daily from dawn to 7 p.m. The museum buildings are open on Tuesdays from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. To arrange a special tour, contact the park at 281-357-5324 or cypresstop@pct3.com. The park is home to the Cypress Historical Society, housed in the California Poppy yellow train depot in the back of the park and open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and the third Saturday of the month from noon to 3 p.m. The society has a treasure trove of genealogy information and historical information for the greater Cypress area. Contact them at cypresshistsociety@att.net or 281-758-0083. If you have questions or comments about this article, contact Fred Collins at fcndc@juno.com.

Historical facts courtesy of Cypress Top Historic Park Collection & Cypress Historical Society: Preserving Cypress History for Posterity.

 

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