By Pogo, a Trail Mix Contributor

Compliments of the History Channel, a bit of history of Christmas.

Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. December 25–Christmas Day–has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870.


Irving Reinvents Christmas 

It wasn’t until the 19th century that Americans began to embrace Christmas. Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia. But what about the 1800s peaked American interest in the holiday?

The early 19th century was a period of class conflict and turmoil. During this time, unemployment was high and gang rioting by the disenchanted classes often occurred during the Christmas season. In 1828, the New York city council instituted the city’s first police force in response to a Christmas riot. This catalyzed certain members of the upper classes to begin to change the way Christmas was celebrated in America.

In 1819, best-selling author Washington Irving wrote The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, gent., a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his home for the holiday. In contrast to the problems faced in American society, the two groups mingled effortlessly. In Irving’s mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status. Irving’s fictitious celebrants enjoyed “ancient customs,” including the crowning of a Lord of Misrule. Irving’s book, however, was not based on any holiday celebration he had attended – in fact, many historians say that Irving’s account actually “invented” tradition by implying that it described the true customs of the season.

A Christmas Carol 

Also around this time, English author Charles Dickens created the classic holiday tale, A Christmas Carol. The story’s message-the importance of charity and good will towards all humankind-struck a powerful chord in the United States and England and showed members of Victorian society the benefits of celebrating the holiday.

The family was also becoming less disciplined and more sensitive to the emotional needs of children during the early 1800s. Christmas provided families with a day when they could lavish attention-and gifts-on their children without appearing to “spoil” them.

As Americans began to embrace Christmas as a perfect family holiday, old customs were unearthed. People looked toward recent immigrants and Catholic and Episcopalian churches to see how the day should be celebrated. In the next 100 years, Americans built a Christmas tradition all their own that included pieces of many other customs, including decorating trees, sending holiday cards and gift-giving.


Christmas Facts 

  • Each year, 30-35 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States alone. There are 21,000 Christmas tree growers in the United States, and trees usually grow for about 15 years before they are sold.
  • Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This is the day it is believed that the three wise men finally found Jesus in the manger.

  • In the Middle Ages, Christmas celebrations were rowdy and raucous—a lot like today’s Mardi Gras parties.
    From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in Boston, and law-breakers were fined five shillings.

  • Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 26, 1870.
    The first eggnog made in the United States was consumed in Captain John Smith’s 1607 Jamestown settlement.

  • Poinsettia plants are named after Joel R. Poinsett, an American minister to Mexico, who brought the red-and-green plant from Mexico to America in 1828.
  • Rudolph, “the most famous reindeer of all,” was the product of Robert L. May’s imagination in 1939. The copywriter wrote a poem about the reindeer to help lure customers into the Montgomery Ward department store.

  • Construction workers started the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition in 1931.

So, Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good life. (Sorry…)

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Of Walls And Memos


By Pogo, a Trail Mix Contributor

WaPo reports that our president is lying to his base about progress on his wall.

As pressure mounts on President Trump to fulfill his key campaign pledge to build a border wall, he has hit on a quick and easy method to demonstrate progress: Just inflate how much his administration is already spending on the project.

Over the past week, including at a campaign rally Thursday night in Billings, Mont., Trump has begun boasting that he has spent $3.2 billion on the wall at the U.S.-Mexico border — twice as much as has been authorized by Congress.

“We’ve started the wall,” Trump told thousands of supporters at the event. “We’ve spent $3.2 billion on the wall. We’ve got to get the rest of the funding.” Later, he repeated the monetary figure and added: “We’ve done a lot of work on the wall. A lot of people don’t understand that.”

Perhaps that is because it is not entirely true. The Trump administration has begun work on 14 miles of a wall in San Diego and 20 miles in Santa Teresa, N.M., under a $341 million appropriation from Congress last year, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Additional border security projects, including levee walls and a secondary wall in San Diego, have been planned and could begin soon under $1.6 billion allocated in the spring, the agency said.

But Trump, who touted the $1.6 billion figure in rallies in June and July, has suddenly upped the figure, suggesting at a rally in Charleston, W.Va., in late August that the administration has spent “over $3 billion. It’s moving along very nicely.”

And I can hear the chants now, ”Build the Wall,  build the wall” [rinse and repeat].  When he wants to sell shit as shinola we know where he goes – Charleston. And they buy everything he has.  I’m so proud.

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It’s the message, not the messenger, stupid

patd By PatD, a Trail Mix Contributor

Mark Shields (PBS Newshour):

The anonymous thing — I disagree with many of my colleagues, […] — when I first ran political campaigns, an old manager said to me, never have anybody sign a memo. Just give the memo and let read — and I said, why? He said, because you want to look at the substance, not the source. You don’t want to be deferential because it’s somebody important writing it or dismissive because it’s somebody young and inexperienced.

And if the person’s name had been on this piece, the anonymous piece in The New York Times, then the response would have been the typical Washington attack machine. They would have gone after the writer, attacked, and say, here — got a DWI charge in 1983 or something of the sort, and just try and savage that.

As a consequence, we’re forced to look at the substance of what was written. And I think these together, they come from Republicans, they come from people who work in the Trump administration. And, I mean, the significance of it demands our attention.

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WE Will Perpetuate That Which WE Dislike

By Pogo, a Trail Mix Contributor

From Michelle Ye Hee Lee in Wapo:

Top officials with the donor network affiliated with billionaire industrialist Charles Koch this weekend sought to distance the network from the Republican Party and President Trump, citing tariff and immigration policies and “divisive” rhetoric out of Washington.

At a gathering of hundreds of donors at the Broadmoor resort here, officials reiterated their plans to spend as much as $400 million on policy issues and political campaigns during the 2018 cycle. Earlier this year, they announced heavy spending aimed at helping Republicans to hold the Senate. But in a warning shot at Trump and the GOP, network co-chair Brian Hooks lamented “tremendous lack of leadership” in Trump’s Washington and the “deterioration of the core institutions of society.”

He called out the White House and Trump-allied GOP lawmakers, particularly over trade policy and increased federal spending, and added that “the divisiveness of this White House is causing long-term damage.”

* * *

Asked about Democrats possibly retaking control of the House, he said: “I don’t care what initials are in front, or after, somebody’s name. . . . I’d like there to be many more politicians who would embrace and have the courage to run on a platform like this.”

In reality, the network is expected to be a powerful force for the political right during the midterm elections, particularly in states where Senate Democrats are most vulnerable. It is also heavily backing the confirmation of federal judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Some of the network’s biggest donors and most experienced activists are Trump’s most ardent supporters.

All nonsensical shots across Republicans’ bows, somehow I can’t seeing the nutty donor network be anything more than the funding source for Republicans to keep the House and Senate majorities they currently hold.

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By Pogo, a Trail Mix Contributor

OK, July 4th has come and gone and we’re entering the political doldrums of the late summer. Of course with Trump (aka Peter “Wrong-way” Peachfuzz) at the helm of the ship of state, who knows what will happen over what is usually a quiet period in US politics?

But we are entering the Atlantic hurricane season, California is burning from San Diego to Oregon, over half the country is sweating its ass off and Houston is flooded again, without the need for a hurricane this time.

With all of this I’m focused on helping my kid find a place to live in NYC  for the upcoming year.

So what’s important to you?

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Oh, for the good old days

By Pogo, a Trail Mix Contributor

Remember when presidents used to protect our country?

President Trump on Friday shattered several decades of protocol — and possibly violated a federal directive — by hinting strongly that the monthly U.S. jobs report would be a rosy one 69 minutes before its release.

In an 11-word Twitter post, Trump jolted financial markets and provided the latest example of how he is reshaping the presidency to fit his freewheeling impulses, pushing aside years of tight controls on the public release of sensitive material that were put in place by Republicans and Democrats.


In May 2017, the president revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during a private Oval Office meeting. Specifically, Trump shared details of an Islamic State terrorist threat, which were believed to have been provided by Israel, a key U.S. ally.

Wapo, ~~thanks~~ for reminding us how far from normal the SFB administration has taken us. 🙄 MAGA?  BS.

Kudlow: ‘I Suppose I Hope’ Trump Doesn’t Talk About Jobs Numbers Early Again

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