Story from Joe Sassone:
I grew up in Poughkeepsie, NY, about 75 miles north of NYC. I come from an Italian-American family where Christmas Eve is King of all Holidays. My grandfather lived in a small 2 BR apartment with comfortable eating space for 8 people, tops. That didn't stop us from jamming 20+ in that apartment every Christmas Eve.
Needless to say, there was no fireplace. Papa did have a console TV heavier than my current car, and that baby was always tuned to WPIX on Christmas Eve.
First thing me and my cousins did when getting home from church was put on the Yule Log. The background music was perfect while we waited for the dinner to be served. Everyone loved it. It really set the mood perfectly. We sang along, we yelled over it, we ate next to it, we made it part of our home.
We kept the Yule Log as part of our tradition, year after year. Usually we kept it on for the entire broadcast, or at least until the wine caused the volume level in the room to get too loud!
When the YL went off the air, it was like a piece of our Christmas had been stolen away from us. The cousins, now adults, talked about missing it like we missed a family member.
When I came across this website, it was like I had been re-united with an old friend. The subsequent rebroadcasts of the YL, and the finding of all the folks who also loved this tradition was so wonderful.
Now, as an adult, I'm passing the YL on to my kids. (I'm in NJ now, so WPIX will still be a part of my Christmas Eve). I hope the YL becomes part of their traditions just as it did mine.
Story from Barbara Mastroddi:
I'm not sure how my fascination with the Yule Log began, but I do remember from the time I was around 7 or 8 (going back to 1969-'70) seeing commercials on (the former) WPIX for 'the burning of the Yule Log'. My first viewing was roughly around that time, when my family and I spent Christmas Eve in my grandparents' apartment in Yonkers, after enjoying a hearty Italian Christmas Eve repast of seafood, macaroni, and presents.
Cut to a few years after, when my parents took on the tradition of Christmas Eve dinner. It was usually us (me, my sister, baby brother, mom, dad, and my aunt, uncle and cousin Chris) who ate a hearty Italian style fish and macaroni dinner, then retired to the living room to have cookies, and watch the Yule Log. Or rather, it was my cousin, my sister and me (my dad would put it on, but fall asleep on the sofa). Somehow, we started getting into the habit of counting how many carols were sung. Never actually kept track of how many versions of what song was played. There was something comforting about that crackling log on the TV screen, in a living room that was darkened except for the bright lights on the tree in the corner. I looked forward to that somewhat corny but beloved tradition each Christmas Eve.
By the time I was an adult, I didn't avidly follow the Yule Log, but took it for granted it'd be on. Imagine my disappointment during the 90s when it seemed that the Yule Log was just a memory of things past. I often mused that I should put together a video of a Yule Log burning in a fireplace, with carols in the background -- yes, people thought I was a bit nuts about that (including my husband).
So imagine my surprise and delight when, in late 2001, I learned that the Yule Log was returning to Channel 11. Needless to say, I watched with rapt attention that year, and have since made the viewing of the Yule Log on Christmas morning a part of my holiday tradition, much as I did back when I was a kid. And although I now live in a home where I can burn my own Yule Log anytime, that famous video clip, for me, is nice nod to my Christmases past, a time when life did seem somewhat simpler, less worrisome, but no less enjoyable than it does now.
Somehow, I wonder if the younger kids will ever get what the Yule Log is all about -- a number of years ago, my (then) 9 year old niece failed to understand my fascination with the Yule Log, and my daughter (who was born around Christmas 2003, and sat with me in my hospital bed with the Yule Log on that morning) will watch, but ask for me to put something else on instead.
Story from Theresa:
I come from a very large Italian family. For us, Christmas Eve was, and still is, the main evening of celebration. My Mother, Aunt's, and Grandmother would converge in the kitchen to prepare the annual feast. My Father, and Uncles would make sure that everyone had a chair around the huge dining room table.
My cousins and I were relegated to, you guessed it, the children's table! It was the best place to be as far as we were concerned because it was placed in the center of the living room, within a few feet of the television set.
Christmas Eve Dinner would start about 8pm. At 11pm we would pause and the entire family would go to Midnight Mass. Back in 1966 and the years that followed the Yule Log aired just after The Midnight Mass from St. Patrick's Cathedral. Upon returning to Nonie's house my cousins and I would gather in the living room to watch and listen to The Yule Log. Sometimes we or an Aunt or Uncle would break into song when a favorite carol played. Nonie would bring into us her famous anisette cookies (flavored with anise oil, not the liquor) and milk. Laughter, love, and music from the Yule Log filled that house. What a time it was!
The WPIX Yule Log never fails to bring me back to that innocent, wonderful time. Although my family is scattered now we all come together in spirit each time the Yule Log airs. I am so very thankful it's back to be the backdrop for new memories in the years to come.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.