Contrary to what some may say, I have come to believe that history is fascinating, important and can actually be full of funny, ironic moments. Turns out there was some amazing stuff happening before the invention of the iPhone; in the year Steve Jobs was born, 1955, the first Guinness Book of World Records was published, Rosa Parks turned riding the bus into a badass thing to do, and Disneyland opened—and that’s just a sampling.
For this issue, I will be focusing on the interesting things that have occurred throughout history on our last day of school for the semester, December 20. For all the juniors out there, making it through the first half of the hardest academic year of your life is definitely momentous, but you’ve got some competition in the worth-remembering category.
On December 20, 1606, the Virginia company settlers left London and headed out to found Jamestown, the first colony in the United States. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t go well. They disappeared, and evidence of why has never been found. Talk about a failed business venture.
Another endeavor-gone-wrong was the creation of the United States Confederacy, fleshed out when South Carolina seceded from the union on December 20, 1860. They thought they had it in the bag. If it wasn’t for that scoundrel Lincoln, they might have done it, too.
Of course, we all know that eventually, all Americans got under one flag again. And if there’s anything that our nation can unite about, it’s annoying-and-yet-adorable Christmas music. Christmas got romantic when, on December 20, 1952, “I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” hit the top of the charts for holiday song of the year. I’ve always thought that would be extremely psychologically damaging but there’s no denying it’s catchy.
But the holiday season is about generosity, joy and openness, not some kid thinking his mom has a jolly new boyfriend. In 1914, World War I took a break on Christmas day. German, French, and American soldiers crossed no-man’s land, exchanged pleasantries and even played football and soccer together. They went back to killing each other the next day, but hey, it’s something.
This time of year is full of big memories, whether it’s lighting the menorah, trimming the tree, pouring the Kwanzaa Tembiko or any of the other wonderful traditions that come with the holiday season. I encourage all of you, after you run out of school this afternoon, screaming with delight, to sit down with a cup of peppermint hot cocoa and take it all in. You never know, you might be witnessing history. Or, at the very least, you might get a good story when Grandpa gets drunk off the eggnog. It’s a win-win.