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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December 10, 1987

I would like to wish all of you a very happy Tuesday, and to welcome all of you to the tenth day of “THE POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR”.

Also known as one of the toughest Tuesday Timeline entries that I have ever done in the entire blog thus far.

And, I don't mean to say that the blog was tough as in emotionally draining. In actuality, this blog entry is quite the opposite. What was tough about it was the fact that December 10 happens to be one of the toughest dates that I have ever tried to do for a Tuesday Timeline. Particularly, a Tuesday Timeline that is set during the advent calendar.

Would you believe that of all the research that I did, and all of the pop culture trivia sites that I consulted, I could not find one decent Christmas reference that took place on December 10? No Christmas album releases, no actors and actresses that were born who starred in a Christmas film. Nothing.

The only Christmas themed pop culture tidbits that I could find for December 10 was the fact that on this date in 1974, “The Year Without A Santa Claus” debuted...but unfortunately, I did a blog on that subject during the last advent calendar. And, when you consider that the only other option that I could find for December 10 was the 1982 Solid Gold Christmas Special...well...let's just say that I struggled to come up with a concept for today's Tuesday Timeline.

And, let's just say that this Tuesday Timeline will focus on a...more personal memory. One that I stumbled upon in one of the most unusual sources. But we'll get to that in a moment.

But for now, I will say that there is an unusual amount of non-Christmas related history to discuss, as all of these events took place on the tenth of December...

1520 – Martin Luther burns his copy of the papal bull “Exsurge Domine” outside of Wittenburg's Elster Gate

1541 – Thomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham are executed after having separate affairs with Catherine Howard, Queen of England, and then-wife of Henry VIII

1684 – Isaac Newton's derivation of Kepler's laws from his theory of gravity is read to the Royal Society by Edmund Hailey

1817 – Mississippi becomes the twentieth state to join the United States

1830 – American poet Emily Dickinson (d. 1886) is born in Amherst, Massachusetts

1868 – The world's first traffic signals are installed outside of London's Westminster Palace

1884 – “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, penned by Mark Twain, is first published

1898 – The Spanish-American War comes to an end following the signing of The Treaty of Paris

1901 – The first Nobel Prizes are awarded, exactly five years after Alfred Nobel – the man whom the prize was named after – died

1902 – In Tasmania, women are finally given the right to vote

1914 – Actress Dorothy Lamour (d. 1996) is born in New Orleans, Louisiana

1927 – The phrase “Grand Ole Opry” is used for the first time on-air

1941 – The HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse are sunk from torpedoes launched by Imperial Japanese torpedo bombers

1955 – The Mighty Mouse Playhouse debuts on television

1957 – Actor Michael Clarke Duncan (d. 2012) is born in Chicago, Illinois

1965 – The Grateful Dead perform their very first concert under their brand new name

1967 – Singer Otis Redding (b. 1941) is killed in a plane crash at just twenty-six years old

1968 – The “300 Million Yen Robbery” takes place in Tokyo, Japan – it remains Japan's biggest unsolved bank heist to date

1996 – Singer/songwriter Faron Young (b. 1932) dies at the age of 64

2005 – Comedian/actor Richard Pryor (b. 1940) loses his life at the age of 65 from a heart attack

2007 – Actress Ashleigh Aston Moore (b. 1981), of the movie “Now and Then”, dies at the age of 26

2012 – Television producer Paul Rauch, who worked on daytime dramas “Guiding Light” and “The Young and the Restless” passes away you see why I had such a hard time with today's blog entry. No Christmas themed topics at all...just a whole lot of celebrity deaths!

So, let's counter that with a lot of celebrity birthdays! Mind you, none of them have a major Christmas link to them, but they are still one year older all the same. Happy birthday to Agnes Nixon, Tommy Kirk, Susan Dey, Paul Hardcastle, Pepsi Dumacque, John J. York, Kenneth Branagh, Michael Schoeffling, Nia Peeples, Bobby Flay, George Newbern, Stephanie Morgenstern, Mel Rojas, Meg White, Summer Phoenix, and Raven-Symone!

So, now we get to the Tuesday Timeline date. And, again, I had to really wrack my brain to try and find a suitable holiday topic to discuss for today. So, would you like to know where my inspiration came from?

It came from a box of Christmas decorations, as well as an old journal that we used to do in elementary school!

I don't know if any of you in public school used to do journals in class, but from first to third grades, we used to have to do a daily journal of what we did during the day. It was an exercise in improving our writing skills as well as using crayons, markers, and pencil crayons to illustrate our journal entries.

Now, I'll admit that my life in first grade wasn't all that memorable...and I'm pretty sure that the entries that I wanted to write about would probably have gotten me thrown out of school (remember, I absolutely hated first grade because I had the worst teacher ever), and therefore, the vast majority of my entries were mostly made up.

However, I do recall one entry that I wrote that was actually the truth. I wrote about doing some sort of craft in my first grade class for Christmas. And, the entry was dated December 11, 1987. Now, because the entry talked about how I made the craft the day before, this would then make our Tuesday Timeline spotlight...

...December 10, 1987.

Now, December 1987 was an interesting month in pop culture.  In December 1987, two holiday specials premiered on television..."A Garfield Christmas" and "Will Vinton's A Claymation Christmas Celebration", two holiday specials that I have loved ever since.  In December 1987, quite a few movies debuted at the box office, including "Moonstruck", "Throw Momma From The Train", and "Empire of the Sun".  And the number one song on the top of the charts was this single below.

Those are all interesting little pop culture nuggets, but none of them work in this Tuesday Timeline.  The Belinda Carlisle song isn't exactly Christmasy, and none of those movies and television specials debuted on December 10.

So, you know what this means? Since I couldn't find a pop culture topic to discuss for today, I thought I'd share a personal story talking about the craft that I worked on that fateful December day. Would you like to see it?  Here...I posed for a photo with my "friend" down below.

Okay, so maybe I haven't quite mastered the art form known as the "selfie" yet.  At least I'm not making the duck face that so many thirteen year old girls have made since Twitter was first created.  But I do want all of you to say hello to my little friend.  And, I'm not talking about the big goofball in the burgundy shirt (that would actually be me).

I'm talking about this little guy.

Would you believe that twenty-six years ago today, I made this little guy with my own bare hands?  I didn't actually give him a name, but this was one of the holiday crafts that we made all the way back in 1987...during a year that I probably would rather like to forget.

Don't get me wrong.  In the world of pop culture, 1987 was a fantastic year.  The music was all music I liked listening to, my favourite cartoon (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) debuted in 1987, and I think the cartoon schedule for 1987/1988 was stellar.  But when it came down to personal matters, the 1987/1988 school year was actually one of my worst, largely because I couldn't stand the teacher...and to be perfectly honest with you, I didn't care much for half of my classmates in that class either.

Granted, we were all six years old by the time Christmas 1987 rolled around, but it's funny how clear my memory is from that time period even though I'm in my early thirties now.

But I will admit to one thing though.  While I still maintain that first grade was the worst school year ever, it still had its good moments to it.  And, I suppose the reason why I have chosen to spotlight the day in which I made this elf craft is because it happens to be one of the few positive moments that I have of first grade.  I guess I'm at an age where I'd rather remember good things instead of bad.  That's not to say that I won't forget the bad, I'd just rather hold on to the good moments.

Make sense?  I certainly hope so.

Now, here's what's very interesting about the events of December 10, 1987.  I actually have two major memories associated with this day...and both of them were good.  The first memory is that we played some sort of game in class where we all took turns trying to count to ten without actually reaching the number ten.  If we hit the number ten, we had to sit out.  For some reason, I remember winning that game on that day, and winning a special prize...a prize which I no longer remember, but I do have the memory of being the winner!  Funny the little details that are tucked away into our brains over time, aren't they?

And, of course, the second memory is that I made the little elf.  And, in hindsight, the elf project was a lot easier than I had made it out to be.  Back when I was a kid, I had absolutely zero patience in art class, and I wanted to be the first kid in the class to finish art assignments - even if it meant colouring outside the lines, gluing together random scraps of paper, or drawing naked stick figures.  So, you can imagine that building an elf from scratch made me a bit frustrated.  

But really, all that was needed was red felt, a styrofoam ball, and an empty jar.  In the case of the elf that I made in 1987, the jar was once filled with Gerber baby food.  

Now, when it came down to actually gluing the felt around the jar, that was actually the part that frustrated me the most.  Nowadays, we have glue sticks and glue guns to assist us with crafts (though I'm pretty sure that glue guns are still not allowed in grade school classrooms).  Back in 1987, we had that useless brown sludge known as mucilage.  You know, that messy brown stuff that rarely came out of the nozzle of the bottle, and when it did, it very rarely stuck.  Yeah, can you imagine a six-year-old trying to use mucilage on red felt?  It was impossible.

(That's why when I got home from school after I brought home my elf, my father grabbed his glue gun and made the felt stick on a little bit better!)

We also had to find a way to drill a hole into the lid of the jar that we were using for the base of our elf project.  Luckily, there was an aide in the classroom (one of those high school students who was doing a co-op placement at our school) who helped me with mine.  I was happy that she helped me, because I know that my actual teacher would have either ignored me, or shamed me while poking the hole through the lid.

Once the lid was drilled through, a bobby pin was inserted into the lid, and that was where we stuck the styrofoam ball.  We were required to decorate the ball to make it look like a face.  We were supposed to use the leftover red felt to design a hat and glue on eyes, a nose, and a mouth on the ball.  Now, as you can see from my elf design, making felt hats is not my specialty.  Truth be told, I kind of made my elf look like Mother Teresa.  But I didn't care.  I loved it.

And, I admit that while I didn't set out to make my elf a grouch, it just ended up that way.  After all, I had used the majority of the red felt to make the elf clothing, and I only had limited scraps to glue on the ball to make the face.  I'm sure that if I could have aimed my scissors a little better, I could have made my elf smile.  But, given how I didn't really like grade one that much, I suppose that maybe I was fashioning my elf after myself.

Needless to say, I think the elf turned out very well.  I kind of even like the fact that my elf is grouchy.  It certainly stood out from all the other happy elves anyway.  And who wanted to have an elf that was exactly the same as some other kid's?

I should also add one final thing.  You see, we didn't just stop at making the elves in class.  We were also required to fill up the elves with candy that our teacher had provided for us.  And, what I did was try to fill up the elf with all the good tasting candy.  Unfortunately, I ended up with one piece of candy that I didn't really care for.  It was one of those imitation Werther's Original candies that tasted like feet.  

(Well, okay...maybe it didn't taste like feet...but it certainly didn't taste like a Werther's!)

But what do you think I did with that nasty candy?  Did I throw it out?  Eat it anyway?  

Actually, for some insane reason, I decided to keep it inside the elf.

Just think about it for a second.  When I first made this elf and filled it up with goodies, the president of the United States was Ronald Reagan.  Since then, we've had a Clinton, an Obama, and two Bushes...of course, not in that order.

Somehow, I've managed to keep a piece of candy trapped inside a childhood art project for over a quarter of a century.  The butterscotch candy you see pictured above is twenty-six years old.

And, no...I won't eat it.  I'm actually a little afraid to eat it, considering how long it's been inside that elf.  Though I will say that for a piece of 26-year-old candy, it looks surprisingly well-preserved!  Of course, I guess part of it could be because it's still wrapped.

It would be interesting to open up the elf again in 2037 (the 50th anniversary of the day I made the elf), just to see if the candy still looks the same.  Maybe the preservatives WERE really good in the 1980s and we didn't know it!

Whatever the case though, that's the story of my little Christmas elf...made with love on the tenth of December, 1987.

What's in store for Day #11?  I can't tell you.  I have to leave it up to fate.  Until then, I bid you adieu!

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