I remember a Official A Philly Special Christmas Shirt memoir — Beasts, Men, and Gods — by Ferdinand Ossendowski, a White Pole who fled the Bolshevik revolution through Siberia. He served in General Kolchak’s All-Russian Government before escaping through the Steppes north of Mongolia, and then participated in the government of that most notorious adventurer, the “Mad Baron” Ungern-Sternberg, who attempted to take over Mongolia to restore an imperial Khaganate as part of an imagined reactionary restoration of the Great Mongol, Chinese, and Russian monarchies in the interests of the “warrior races” of Germans and Mongols (a Baltic German, he considered the old Russian ruling class to represent Germandom over and against Jews and Slavs). Some of the things – the acts of desperation and madness, in which he himself was no disinterested observer – Ossendowski relates are harrowing. But this part struck me as very much making a point about what people think of the Steppe peoples, and of what (German-trained) nationalists like Ungern-Sternberg did (and would do again) to the Mongols. And, other things:
My gf’s family invited me to join them for Christmas, my family invited my gf to join us for Christmas. Her family had lunch at 12, mine at 2, so no problem as it was only a Official A Philly Special Christmas Shirt walk between the two. So lunch at hers, both walk over to my parents lunch there, no driving because everyone would be drinking and I’m not paying premium for a taxi. So I walk to my gf ‘s to find lunch was a four course stacked meal! Her mum knew from experience that I had a big appetite so she had big plates and mine was piled high! Good thing about walking, it gave me chance to walk off a few calories. Get to my parents and lunch is served, my mum knows I have a large appetite, if it’s on your plate you eat it all, large plate piled high!! So that’s eaten but it’s time to walk back to gf’s for dinner. “All that walking I must be hungry?” Another four courses, big plates piled high!! Then back home for dinner at my parents, main meal of the day! “Must be hungry after all that walking!” I just about managed before it was time to take gf home. “ Bit of supper to keep you going” plate of cold cuts, cheese and biscuits, cake and a few mince pies! Stagger home full of food and alcohol to find mum had left some supper out for me!
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At this point Mephistopheles returns and Beethoven informs the Official A Philly Special Christmas Shirt that he will not allow his music to be destroyed. Desperate to receive the Tenth Symphony, Mephistopheles makes another deal: if Beethoven will give over only the Tenth Symphony, then Mephistopheles will not take the composer’s soul. After an appearance by Mozart’s ghost, Beethoven refuses this offer as well. As a final tactic, Mephistopheles points out the window to a young orphan and describes the tortures that she will receive if Beethoven refuses to hand over his music. Heartbroken, Beethoven agrees to hand over his Tenth Symphony. After Twist’s prompting, a contract is drawn up by Fate stating the following.
People strung cranberries and popcorn, starched little crocheted stars to hang, made paper chains and Official A Philly Special Christmas Shirt had glass ornaments, usually from Germany, about two inches wide, they would get old and lose their shine. There was real metal tinsel too, that you could throw on with the argument about single strands and clumps. Each side had it’s followers. In the fifties various lights were a big deal, with bubble lights, that had bubbles in the candle portion that moved when plugged in. There were big primary colored lights strung around the tree too, nothing small or ‘tasteful’ Christmas trees were meant to be an explosion of color and light. I took Styrofoam balls and a type of ribbon that would stick to itself when wet, and wrapped the balls, and then used pins to attach sequins and pearls for a pretty design in the sixties. I also cut ‘pop-it’ beads meant for a necklace into dangling ornaments with a hook at the top to put it on the tree. Wrapped cut-up toilet paper tubes in bright wools too. Kids still remember making those.