(October 27, 2008)
F. "CHIP" ARCURI
Owner/Webmaster of The Yule Log.com
Autumn greetings everybody!
Well, here we are yet again closing in on yet another holiday season – and when we finally get there, believe me folks, we will have really deserved it, especially after enduring the angst and acrimony of this current political season.
In advance of the upcoming Yule Log book, I thought I would dedicate this edition of “Chip’s Tips” to giving you an advanced preview of my own personal story that will be included in the book.
But before I do, let me just give you a quick update on the book’s current status, as well as some exciting new news. Stories are being accepted until Friday, November 24, 2008, with the publication date projected at sometime just before Christmas. Now, you may be wondering how the deadline for stories can be open until November 24 with the book set to be published just before Christmas, right? Well, here’s the big news: we have decided to publish the Yule Log stories as an e-book!
There were two advantages that factored into our decision for this: first and foremost, it will be much more readily accessible to more people around the country and around the globe; second, it provides us with greater flexibility to add more stories in the future. Essentially what that means is that we can continue to accept stories on an ongoing basis after the initial deadline, and then later, just add them to the existing online e-book. Pretty cool, eh? The Yule Log has definitely gone high-tech! I will give you another update on the progression of the book in my next edition of “Chip’s Tips,” as well as on the Yule Log.com message board. In the mean time, if you haven’t already, please take advantage of this golden opportunity to share with us your heartwarming memories of the Yule Log. For details on how to submit your story, please click on the link that’s provided on the home page of the website. Also, if you’d like, you can submit a holiday photograph to us to be paired with your story. We would love to be able to put a face with the memories! By the way, the new e-book’s title will be: The Yule Log: A Collection of Personal Memories (so named by yours truly). Aside from the forward I have written, the entire book is Yule Log stories from average Americans, like you and me.Now, without further ado, here is my own personal story of my favorite memories of Yule Log, which I originally posted on the Yule Log.com message board back in November 2005, and will be published in the new upcoming e-book:
It is basically this: the recollection of sitting around the living room, relaxing with my family on Christmas Eve, while watching the Yule Log and just reveling in the splendor of the great music that was emanating from every TV and radio in the house (that I had previously turned on and set to Channel 11 and 102 FM respectively). Occasionally, the conversation would be punctuated with a question to me about a song playing – yes, even then, as a young, avid collector, I was answering questions about the music of the Yule Log. But the most endearing memories of all, were watching it with those family members in particular who have since departed, and are now gone.
I've told this story before on the Yule Log.com message board, and now I'll share it with you in this book as well. It was from a Christmas Eve many years ago in the mid 1970s. I don't quite remember the year, but it’s not germane to the story anyway. My paternal grandmother always liked to play cards. So she gathered a few of us together for a game, and as her and I, along with several of my siblings, were playing in the kitchen, Percy Faith's "Gesu Bambino" began to play on the Yule Log. Well, needless to say, I just had to excuse myself for a moment so I could steal away and join the others in the living room to sit for a quiet moment while it played. Even then, Percy Faith was my all-time favorite, and I regarded him as the greatest Christmas music artist ever (and this was when my Christmas album collection was probably 1/4 of what it is today). So now, every time I hear "Gesu Bambino" by Percy Faith, it reminds me of that special moment with my late grandmother, when we were playing cards while enjoying the Yule Log, on that Christmas Eve over 30 years ago.
You see, because the Yule Log has always been such an integral part of our family’s Christmas celebratory tradition year after year, when watching the Yule Log today, for me, it’s like watching a home movie – with the part of my family provided by the voluminous memories in my mind that I’ve accumulated over the years. Even during the time when it was off the air, the Yule Log tradition still went on in our house via a Beta tape that I had made of the program years before. Christmas would not be Christmas without it; in fact, in our house, Christmas couldn’t even start without it! Which is why I was so proud of my role in the restoration of the audio soundtrack for its 40th anniversary in 2006. It is so ironic that the very Christmas record collection that the Yule Log so greatly inspired ended up being the source of the music for its restoration some 30 years later. And that this was the case was especially critical, as 34 of the 70 selections on the soundtrack are now out of print – and of these 34, some are quite rare and extremely hard to find today. However, because Christmas music has always been the great joy and passion of my life, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I had every single one of them in my collection. Like I said, I’m very, very proud.
In closing, I couldn’t even think of ending this story without expressing my sincere and heartfelt thanks to Mr. Fred Thrower, for not only creating this wonderful program and tradition (and for the profound way it has touched and affected our lives), but also for the exquisite taste he brilliantly exhibited in choosing its music. Without this great music, the Yule Log would not have become what it is today. His choice of music was indisputably beyond reproach. Also, a very special thank you to his devoted son Mitch Thrower, for his efforts to help keep his father’s and the Yule Log’s legacy alive with the publication of this book.
Lawrence F. "Chip" Arcuri