'CAUSE WE NEED A LITTLE CHRISTMAS, RIGHT THIS SOAPY MINUTE...
By Alina Adams
When I first moved to the US with my parents in the late 1970s, I encountered a great many wonders. A walk-in closet that I thought was its own room (what? it had a light-bulb!). A holiday where you went door to door and people gave you candy (or, as my grandmother called it, "The one where the children go begging."). And TV.
Not just any TV.
Christmas music, Christmas specials, Very Special Christmas episodes. (Carol Brady gets her voice back! Mr. Edwards makes it to the Little House with a bag of gifts tied to his head! M*A*S*H celebrates its fifth Christmas despite the actual Korean War lasting only two years - okay, I admit, that one I figured out later.)
By the time I was in middle school, though, and the other kids were all excited about Winter Break, with visions of video games and egg-nog dancing in their heads, Christmas meant only thing to me (that's what happens when you're Jewish and lactose intolerant): Getting to see the soap episodes I was otherwise forced to miss during the prosaic school year (and I bet you thought the Grinch was a mean one!).
I loved everything about them. How the extended (and incestuously intertwined) families got together. How they ritualistically decorated their trees. How a deep, dark secret was inevitably spilled, while other rivals called a truce that everyone knew wouldn't last into the new year. How someone got a miracle and a visit from St. Nick, who wasn't real - wink, wink - or was he? How Charles Dickens got ripped off yet again without earning a single royalty.
To me, it was the height of Americana. A glimpse into how the other half lived that had nothing to do with economic status and everything to do with being a "core family," one that's been there from the start, and would always be there. (What did I know, right?)
It is in celebration of my pre-teen excitement that I'm kicking off a new series, Soap Christmas Flashbacks, starting with As The World Turns, circa the mid-1960s.
Ellen (Emily's grandmother), had given birth to an illegitimate son and given the boy up for adoption. When she changed her mind, she fought his adoptive parents, the Stewarts, for custody, but lost. However, when Dan's adoptive mother died, Ellen fell in love with his adoptive father, David.
Dan wasn't too happy about this new woman in his father's life (ironically, his brother, Paul, was all for it). Neither was the Stewarts' housekeeper, Fanny, who wanted David for herself.
Fanny was always threatening to tell Dan that Ellen was his real mother. Eventually, Ellen got tired of the threats, and conked Fanny on the head with a candlestick. Complications ensued.
The clip below, however, is from Christmas Eve, both the one Ellen is experiencing now, and one she recalls....
Alina Adams is the author of ATWT books "The Man From Oakdale" and "Oakdale Confidential."