Story from Derek Bull:
When The Yule Log started coming on, I used to worry that Santa was going to have a hard time coming down the chimney. Of course, I was only 4 years old at the time. I always thought Santa came at the stroke of midnight, so I wondered why the program went off at midnight, since Santa still had to come that night and there’d still be folks awake watching it.
I grew up in Chatham, NJ, A suburb of NYC. Watching The Yule Log over the years was as exciting to me as Christmas itself. I can still remember my brother and myself in later years, coming home after the Christmas Eve church service, putting our wrapped presents under the tree and then falling asleep while watching the Log burn. My mother and my father used to shake their heads at seeing us just sitting and watching and watching some more.
I was excited when I found the website and heard it was coming back. I recorded it onto a VHS, and every Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, my family enjoys The Yule Log during Christmas dinner. I still think Christmas Eve is still the best time for viewing the program, especially while sitting and mingling with family and friends. Even after all these years, The Yule Log still warms my heart the same way it did 36 years ago, even here in the warmth of Florida. Like I said before, The Yule Log is and always will be as Christmas to me as Christmas itself. I thank Mitch Thrower for his effort in bringing back the program and warming my heart as well as that of others who feel that Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without the The Yule Log. I’m also happy that I could introduce it to my wife and kids and share its warmth with them.
Story from Beth M. Schneider-Szapucki:
My Christmas tree will celebrate its twenty-second year in use this holiday season. I remember purchasing it one very cold night in December with my sister while she was very pregnant with my nephew. It holds great sentimental value to me, because on December 14th I got the best holiday present you could imagine--my nephew, Michael.
When I was growing up, we never had a Christmas tree. When I married my husband, who celebrates Christmas, he and I decided to celebrate all occasions together, honoring each other’s beliefs in our own ways. We’ve been setting up the tree together ever since.
So even though the branches have been through a lot of wear and tear over the years, I can’t part with my Christmas tree. We light the tree, watch The Yule Log burn and toast the holiday. We celebrate the season with good reason--with life, love, and prayer for peace on earth.
Beth M. Schneider-Szapucki
Story from Diane Gross:
I remember when I was growing up, on Christmas Eve my dad would always have The Yule Log on the TV. Unfortunately, now in my adulthood I don’t get the local channels on my TV, so I can no longer watch The Yule Log every Christmas. I have missed the program so much that one year, I even printed off a picture of a burning fire and taped it to my darkened TV screen. I then played my Christmas carols in the background. It wasn’t the same thing, but it sort of worked! Hopefully, this year I might be pleasantly surprised and find a broadcast of The Yule Log on my TV. Christmas has just never been the same without it.
Story from Craig Collins:
The Yule Log, 1966
I was sixteen years old in 1966. It was the year I bought my first car, a 1960 Ford Falcon Station wagon. It was also the year that I saw The Yule Log for the first time on television. My parents were out for the evening, and I had just finished watching the movie Harvey, starring Art Carney. Wrapped around each branch of our Christmas tree that year were strips of cotton to look like snow, and red balls tied on each branch with big red ribbons. My mom had seen it in a magazine. I thought it looked kind of weird, but then I was 16, what did I know? It just didn’t look like the Christmas tree I was used to!
I was surfing the few stations we had at that time, Channel 2; 4, 5, 7, and even 13 on a good day. It was Christmas time, and even in California it was pretty darn cold that night. My girlfriend was spending time with her family, and my parents were at a party, so I was home alone. Because I wasn’t allowed to light a fire in our fireplace when I was the only one home, I just sat there with a box of Sees Candy, memorizing what each piece looked like, so I could pick out the ones I liked the most. To this day, December 2008, I can still pick out the chocolate ones from the walnut creams; the cherry-filled from the ones with marshmallow in the center; the chewy caramels from the ones with nuts or bits of fruit in them.
As, I turned the dial on our Arvin television and adjusted the rabbit ears, all of a sudden, there appeared a picture of a fireplace with logs burning in it. While it burned, I could hear Christmas songs playing. It had a kind of magical, mesmerizing feel about it. It wasn’t ‘till I was older that the Yule Log was known to have been part of the magic and celebration of the pagan rituals found in early England. The ancient fire-festival of the winter solstice appears to survive in the Yule log custom. However, that Christmas, as I looked into the fire of the Yule Log, I felt the magic and could imagine the people dancing around the fire in celebration of the miracle of winter as it expressed itself each December 25th. Images of nymphs and “sugar plum” fairies began to conjure up for me as I began to lose myself as I looked deep into the burning embers of the fire.
One winter, with a group of my friends, I drove down to the Abalone Cove Beach Club, on the south end of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. We used our private membership cards to get through the gate. We brought firewood with us and when we made the fire in the indoor fireplace inside of the club house, I piled the wood just like I had remembered from the Yule Log on television. We sat around, without our parents, sipping from glasses of rum and coke and telling stories. As we imbibed the warm liquor, the fire displayed images and shadow on the ceiling and walls. One of my friends played his guitar, as we took sticks and beat them on an old wooden barrel and several empty wine bottles that had been left behind from some adult party during the summer. As my male friends, wearing their letterman jackets, began to create music, the girls in their corduroy pant suits started dancing around the room. It was a kind of mystical time for us. It wasn’t until several months later that we read about the Celtic people and their dances around the fire in celebration of the Summer Solstice. I remember several of our group reporting they had seen just this same type of fire on their televisions, the same night I had. It was fun to have all seen something at the same time on the same night. In actuality I think some of my friends made it up, just to be part of the synchronicity of our group, but at the moment I enjoyed it.
It was a meaningful and intimate night for all of us. As we headed for our cars, some of us not leaving but driving to the far reaches of the parking lot to make out with our girlfriends and to watch the full moon as it shone brightly out to the sea, I think we all felt closer to each other as a result of our celebration of the Yule Log. It was like The Yule Log on TV had rekindled an old memory and ritual that lived deep within us. After a bout of high school playing at the end of the parking lot, I came up for air and could still see the flames of our Yule Log splashing light on the sand as I peered over the car door and looked out the driver’s side window.
When I see The Yule Log today, I remember being young and very happy with my friends. As I think of it now, I think that was the night I asked my first girlfriend to go steady, for the first time. Yes, it was, I remember giving her my letterman’s jacket to wear.
When I got home that night my parents were asleep. So, I switched on the TV, turning down the volume, so I could barely make out the Christmas songs and just sat there, looking at The Yule Log, smiling and remembering the magic that had revealed itself for me that night.
It wasn’t until I was in my early fifties that I met the son of the originator of The Yule Log, Mitch Thrower. He shared with a group of us that his father, Fred Thrower, had been the producer of The Yule Log. As he spoke, and I again got to watch The Yule Log on television, I smiled deep inside, and, for that moment felt young again, remembering the fun I had had as a kid. Mitch’s father had introduced me to a part of myself that I would not have known had it not been for his desire to warm the hearths of all families at Christmas who did not have fireplaces in their houses. I told Mitch and the group my Yule Log story, and everyone else started sharing other similar stories from their childhoods. And so, another magical moment emerged from the spirit of Fred Thrower.
If you can slow your pace down, and see The Yule Log come on your television, or have the time to light a few logs in your fireplace, allow yourself to drift off and see if you can receive the magic, the magic of a childhood and friends sharing their hearts. Thank you, Fred Thrower, for the memories.
Stories are being accepted on an ongoing basis; so, if you have a story to share with us about your heartwarming memories of growing up with the Yule Log, please email it to me at email@example.com.