How White Christmas Became an Iconic Holiday Song

On this day in history, December 25, 1941, Bing Crosby performed White Christmas for the first time

Created by songwriter Irving Berlin and singer Bing Crosby, White Christmas became an instant hit when it premiered in the movie Holiday Inn in 1942.

As a winter storm is set to blanket much of the nation in snow, many Americans will indeed experience a white Christmas. 

When those first few notes of the song White Christmas begin to play, your heart begins to melt. Then, the textured tones of Bing Crosby’s crooning voice fill the air and wrap around you like a warm blanket.

Dreaming of a White Christmas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

White Christmas is one of the most iconic songs of the holiday season and it’s easy to see—and hear—why. Many artists, from Elvis and The Supremes to Dolly Parton and the Flaming Lips have created their renditions paying homage to the nostalgic tune.

But woven within that tune are whispers of the time, a time of global change and uncertainty, and how Hollywood and musical legends found a way to create a wistful escape.

The dreamer

It seems only fitting that the melancholy melody of the holiday tune was sung by one of the most beloved voices of the 20th century.

“At the time that Bing Crosby recorded White Christmas, he was the biggest star in the country, perhaps in the world,” said Matthew Barton, the curator of recorded sound at the Library of Congress.

“He was a huge success on records, he had a weekly radio show, and he was a major film star,” Barton added. “He really was just a towering figure and had been for a number of years.”

According to Barton, Crosby had already been recording Christmas songs as a band singer in the late 1920s and then he recorded the songs on his own in the 1930s.

“They were big hits,” Barton said. “And they became hits again every winter.”

“(Crosby’s) voice, his personality were very much, very closely associated with Christmas and Christmas music at the time,” Barton added.

Dreaming of a White Christmas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The man behind the curtain

While Crosby might be the most recognizable name associated with White Christmas, another cultural heavy hitter was behind the song’s creation: Irving Berlin.

“Berlin wrote constantly,” Barton said. “It was not unusual for him to have quite a few songs just on hand if the occasion demanded them.”

According to Barton, Berlin wrote White Christmas in late 1939-early 1940–by that point, he had been writing hit songs for more than 25 years.

“(White Christmas) came from an idea he’d had several years earlier to do a musical revue, a series of numbers built around days in the year—holidays, specifically important days.”

Berlin, who had also recently written God Bless America by that point, presented his idea for a holiday musical revue to Hollywood film director Mark Sandrich.

“They started developing a whole story which you can now see in the film Holiday Inn which is sort of framed by the song White Christmas,” Barton said.

Dreaming of a White Christmas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Showtime

When Holiday Inn was released in August 1942, it was an instant hit—and so was White Christmas, despite the movie’s summer premiere.

“It wasn’t really a seasonal song, but that was the one that clicked with people,” Barton said. “It was just obvious from the get-go.”

“Berlin said he knew it all along,” he added. “He thought it was the best thing he’d written to that point.”

By September, the popularity of White Christmas grew as evidenced by growing sales of the song’s sheet music.

“People just wanted this song, they wanted to hear it, and they wanted to sing it and play it themselves,” Barton said.

Come October, it tops the charts.

“You’ve got a Christmas song and it’s number one in October—I’m not sure that anyone else has ever accomplished that,” said Barton.

According to Barton, White Christmas remained at No. 1 for three months.

Dreaming of a White Christmas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Notes of nostalgia

Probably one of the most striking aspects of the song’s popularity is its somber, nostalgic sentiment.

In Holiday Inn, Bing Crosby’s character is down on his luck on Christmas Eve as he dreams of a white Christmas.

“If you see the film, you know it’s very much about the loss and loneliness that he’s feeling at the time,” Barton said. “It just invokes this image of being so far from where you want to be.”

This image is also set upon a dark backdrop outside the movie. 

When Berlin wrote White Christmas in late 1939-early 1940, the country was right on the heels of the Great Depression and on the cusp of World War II.

“The war had started but we weren’t in it,” Barton said. “It was something that’s very much in the headlines and very much on people’s minds.”

By the time Holiday Inn premiered with White Christmas in tow in 1942, the U.S. had joined the war. 

According to Barton, the country’s involvement may have informed how Crosby sang the song, what he was thinking about, and how people listened to the song.

Dreaming of a White Christmas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Somber songcraft

For Berlin, the inspiration for writing such a somber song may have been influenced by his personal feelings of loneliness.

“He was a show business veteran of many decades and it was not unusual for him to be away from home or to be working long days that everybody else was just relaxing and enjoying themselves,” Barton said.

According to Barton, Berlin also had sad memories of Christmas Day having lost an infant son on the holiday.

“He said that he visited that son’s grave every year on the 25th of December,” Barton said. 

Berlin was also well aware of the universal nature of distance and loss, whether of loved ones or of times long past, and hoping for a brighter future.

An Arizona Christmas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The canon of culture

Eighty-two years have passed since Holiday Inn introduced the public to White Christmas—a song that has resonated with countless listeners worldwide.

In 2002, it became one of the first songs added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry. 

According to Barton, the registry is an ongoing initiative of the Library of Congress to recognize and draw attention to, popularize, and promote the preservation of recordings that are historically, aesthetically, and technically significant.

Given the significance of White Christmas, its placement in the registry comes as no surprise.

“I feel that any good music, good records, that there’s always a good story behind them,” Barton said. “And that’s certainly the case with White Christmas.”

Worth Pondering…

Christmas is the day that holds all time together.

—Alexander Smith

Merry Christmas to all…

The Christmas Song

Christmas is the day that holds all time together.

—Alexander Smith

The Nat King Cole Trio recorded The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You) in 1946 and turned it into a Christmas classic one year after Bob Well and Mel Torme wrote it. The song is also commonly subtitled as Chestnut’s Roasting on an Open Fire due to its opening lyrics.

Multiple song arrangements have been recorded throughout the years but the most notable version has to be Cole’s which includes the warm sounds of a small string section. The lyrics are filled with warm Christmas feelings and sweet holiday imagery including: “Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe/ Help to make the season bright…Yuletide carols being sung by a choir/ And folks dressed up like Eskimos.”

Merry Christmas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The popular Christmas song has been covered by many artists including Christina Aguilera for her 2000 album, My Kind of Christmas and Michael Bublé on his Let it Snow EP.

Check out the full lyrics below to get in the Christmas spirit. 

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe
Help to make the season bright
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight
They know that Santa’s on his way
He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh
And every mother’s child is gonna spy
To see if reindeer really know how to fly

And so I’m offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it’s been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you

And so I’m offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it’s been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you 

Merry Christmas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It is Christmas Eve and I hope you are reading this someplace cozy, surrounded by friends and family, your partner, your dog, your cat… 

I hope there’s a soft chime of Christmas music playing in the background and something delicious cooking in the oven. I hope you are warm, healthy, and grateful for everything mentioned above.

If this year looks different for you, if you are not warm, or healthy, or surrounded by friends and family, this space is for you too.

This year, much like the past two, has presented new challenges. Prices are high, gifts may be fewer, and miles traveled may also be fewer.

Things that are always free to give: love, kindness, a smile, a wave, a hug, your favorite book off your bookshelf, a phone call…

Merry Christmas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I’ve been working hard to try and define ourselves here at rvingwithrex.com. Who are we really? What’s the point of all this? Why do I do what I do? Much of it boils down to my love of the RV lifestyle and a desire to share my years of experiences—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

If you have an RV whether it’s a big Class A that you live in full-time whether it’s a small teardrop trailer that you and your family take out on the weekends or whether you live in an RV because it’s your only option or place of shelter, it doesn’t matter. One thing I’ll always say: We’re all RVers. Our community is for everyone.

As usual, I will post a newsletter tomorrow and I wish you the Merriest of Christmases—and, to my Jewish friends, Happy Hanukkah.

Whatever your day may be, wherever you are and however you’re spending it—may your day be merry and bright.

Worth Pondering…

A joy that is shared is a joy made double.

John Roy

On This Day in History, December 19, 1843: Charles Dickens Publishes A Christmas Carol

Timeless tale of human redemption and self discovery

A Christmas Carol, a globally celebrated timeless tale of heartwarming human redemption crafted as a haunting holiday ghost story, was published in London on this day in history, December 19, 1843.  

Except for the biblical narrative of the birth of Christ itself, A Christmas Carol may be the world’s most well-known and most frequently retold tale of the holiday.

English author Charles Dickens, 31 years old at the time, had recently gained literary celebrity following the release of Sketches by Boz, The Pickwick Papers, and Oliver Twist.

Christmas Season © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A Christmas Carol was written over a few short weeks to ensure its publication before Christmas 1843 but its message has stood the test of time notes the Charles Dickens Museum of London. 

“Recognized by critics on its publication as ‘a national benefit to every man and woman who reads it a personal kindness’, the story has been retold and adapted ever since.” 

Rich, miserly, and lonely, Ebenezer Scrooge derives pleasure only in his money, bitterly laments the arrival of Christmas and the joy displayed by its celebrants, and detests the indigents who suffer on the streets of Industrial Revolution London. 

“If they would rather die they had better do it and decrease the surplus population,” Scrooge says in one alarming insight into his soul. 

Christmas Season © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Yet he is filled with goodwill toward man after a series of ghosts take him on a journey through his life of joyful past, detestable present, and ominous future.  

“His wealth is of no use to him. He don’t do any good with it,” Scrooge’s nephew says in a revealing moment of the emptiness of his dispirited existence. 

A Christmas Carol has gone down as Dickens’ most famous and most culturally impactful story in a career that produced a long list of classics that followed. Among them: David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations.

Characters and catchphrases from the short book have not only stood the test of time; they entered the lexicon on both sides of the Atlantic and remain there nearly 200 years later.

Scrooge is synonym for a miser. 

His signature terse retort, “Bah, humbug” is uttered to express grumpy mocking disdain. 

Christmas Season © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dickensian describes situations of urban decay or the poor who live among it such as Scrooge’s browbeaten employee, Bob Cratchit. 

“God bless us, everyone,” the gleeful refrain at the end of A Christmas Carol, spoken by Cratchit’s crippled son Tiny Tim is an often-used toast that sums up almost any joyful occasion when other words fail.

“Though he spent mere weeks writing it, Dickens’ novella about the original Christmas Grinch has been a holiday staple for nearly two centuries, giving rise to countless adaptations for stage and screen,” Paulette Beete wrote in 2020 for the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Beete cites an incredible list of adaptions: more than 100 film versions according to the International Movie Database, 20 television series that have featured A Christmas Carol or its characters; four operas, two ballets; and even a video game. 

Several versions of A Christmas Carol have become annual holiday viewing fare for millions of families. 

A 1951 black-and-white version starring Alistair Sims as Scrooge is considered a classic among the many adapts and is still found on television nearly 75 years later. 

Christmas Season © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dickens’ beloved tale of Christmas in 19th-century London may have had its origins in the United States. The young author visited the United States in 1842 where he met one of his literary icons, the much older and more celebrated American author Washington Irving. Dickens spent time with Irving and his brother, Ebenezer Irving. 

Dickens returned to England and began writing A Christmas Carol.

Character archetypes who liven the pages of A Christmas Carol first appeared in Irving’s writing, literary scholars and Irving fans have noted as do many of the idyllic images we now associate with a classic 19th-century Christmas. 

“Irving (as alter ego Geoffrey Crayon) waxes rhapsodic over the traditional pleasures of Christmas at a fictional country estate called Bracebridge Hall,” notes the website of Historic Hudson Valley where Irving lived and placed many of his stories. 

“If any author can lay claim to inventing this venerable holiday, it’s Washington Irving.”

“I say, gentlemen, I do not go to bed two nights out of seven without taking Washington Irving under my arm upstairs to bed with me,” Dickens reportedly said, according to multiple sources. 

Christmas Season © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Yet there is no doubting the impact of A Christmas Carol on the holiday season or on English-language literature. 

Scrooge “became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world,” Dickens writes at the end of the famous tale.  

“Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh … His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.”

Worth Pondering…

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.

—Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

The Top 10 Christmas-Inspired RV Road Trips

While any corner of the United States brims with holiday joy and magic during the season, these are the top road trips and destinations to mark on your map to experience the creme de la creme of Christmas road trips

This festive season, many people are choosing to avoid flying and hit the road for the holidays instead. Whether you’re looking for famed mountain peaks frosted with snow, national parks devoid of tourist crowds, or iconic routes allowing you to cruise without traffic or something in between, one of these options is sure to fit the bill.

RV road trips are often reserved for the freedom of summer vacation but if you miss the open road there’s no reason you can’t find holiday-inspired adventure along the highway during the winter. Work these festival stops into a trip back to grandmother’s house or follow the trail for a merry and bright day trip.

Grand Canyon Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Phoenix to the Grand Canyon, Arizona

While desert landscapes may not provide a winter wonderland experience, Phoenix knows how to do the holidays right with its famous Chandler Tumbleweed Tree tradition, a lighting ceremony, and Christmas parade.

Before or after enjoying it, take a road trip to the Grand Canyon where there’s a good chance you’ll see at least a dusting of snow with the South Rim sitting at about 6,800 feet in elevation, bringing lots of picture-perfect photo-ops without the crowds. And, during the holidays, you can ride the Polar Express Train from Williams to the South Rim.

Here are some helpful resources:

Savannah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

St. Augustine, Florida to Savannah, Georgia

Winter transforms beautiful St. Augustine, America’s oldest city into a stunning spectacle of lights. Its magnificent Spanish architecture is lit up with over three million individual bulbs and there will be horse-drawn carriage rides to view them all.

Afterward, take off for Savannah to enjoy the Boats on Parade with more than 40 lighted vessels parading both sides of the waterfront accompanied by live music, a tree lighting ceremony, and fireworks. Or enjoy an old-fashioned celebration with Christmas on the River with local entertainment, music, seasonal treats, and more.

Here are some articles to help:

Mount Dora © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mount Dora, Florida

Mount Dora’s slow pace of life and relaxed atmosphere paint the picture of a quintessential small town presenting a sweet escape from the urban hustle and bustle. This quaint destination is famous for its antique shops and festivals and by exploring the lively downtown you will discover several spots worth visiting.

One of the highlights is the Modernism Museum, a great place to admire intricate designs of modern furniture. But if you are interested in actual history, you can step into the Mount Dora History Museum. Here, you will explore a local legacy dating back to the 1880s through exciting exhibits.

Stepping outside, Mount Dora is surrounded by picturesque sceneries like Palm Island Park. This tranquil nature preserve features a promenade passing along Lake Dora and through a wooded area. You can find a laidback picnic area or fishing spot to spend quality time. Meanwhile, one of the best times in Mount Dora is during winter festivals like the Mount Dora Arts Festival or the Mount Dora Half Marathon. 

Check this out to learn more: 11+ Sensational Things to do in Mount Dora

Santa Fe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe makes a great alternative to the norm for your best Christmas travel ideas. A trip here allows you to view Christmas through the lens of Pueblo and Hispanic cultures.

Celebrate a midnight mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis de Assisi. Discover the GLOW light display at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden.

Pick up some unique gifts at the Winter Santa Fe Winter Indian Market. There are also many music and dance performances to check out. The lanterns adorning the rooftops on Christmas Eve are a sight to behold as well!

Santa Fe has more to offer the Christmas traveler than you would think! Activities, traditions, candles, and lights all make this a unique offering. Enjoy sipping hot chocolate while watching the winter sunsets.

Check this out to learn more: Santa Fe Never Goes Out of Style

Helen © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Helen, Georgia

A Bavarian Christmas in America? Yes, it is possible and Helen in Georgia serves it up for you with the snow-capped Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop.

Helen is one of the cutest small towns in the South and it only gets more adorable during Christmas. You can drink Glühwein, visit the Christkindlmarket, marvel at the architecture, and all without having to leave the U.S. For a Bavarian Christmas, Helen offers something different when it comes to the best American Christmas vacations.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Zion National Park to Moab, Utah

The onset of winter shouldn’t automatically mean that sunny days in the great outdoors are over; to chase bright, dry skies, head for the desert. This jaunt will have you swooning over Utah’s myriad of red rocks, elaborate hoodoos, and slot canyons with pitstops in Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Arches National Parks. Spend a full week to soak up the scenery (and craft beer).

Begin early in Zion to take in the sunrise glow from within the fabled canyon walls. Stop for photos and say hello to the horses in rustic, cliff-lined Fruita in Capitol Reef National Park then cruise up to Moab for the Arches scenic drive before taking in the sunset at Dead Horse Point.

Here are some helpful resources:

Manatee in Crystal River © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Crystal River, Florida

Cool temperatures in Florida bring to life one of the state’s most famous marine mammals. The gentle Florida Manatees escape the colder waters of the Gulf of Mexico to warmer springs in the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, such as the gorgeous Three Sister Springs. Crystal Rivers boasts a long list of park spaces that are perfect to visit during the winter season. At Crystal River Preserve State Park, you find various fun recreational opportunities, including kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking, and bird-watching. 

Alternatively, you can mix your love for history and the outdoors at the Crystal River Archeological State Park. This pre-Columbian site houses a plaza area, temple mounds, and burial mounds that portray a primitive way of life in ancient Native American societies. A visit to Crystal River would not be complete without an intimate encounter with the town’s most famous marine resident and the Swim with Manatees boat tour provides tourists with this rare opportunity. 

Check this out to learn more: Swim with the Manatees of Florida’s Crystal River

Gulf Shores © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gulf Shores, Alabama

It is not just the name. This well-known Alabama jewel provides the ultimate Gulf Coast winter experience. Relaxing coastal breezes, mild temperatures, and heart-ravishing views will see one’s vacation end before it starts. With its miles of white-as-sugar sandy beaches, bayous, rivers, and lakes, winter here is not the time to dress as someone going to the moon.

Gulf State Park boasts 8 miles of paved trails perfect for biking—while Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, one of the largest undeveloped parcels of land on the Alabama coast is bearably cooler in winter and, hence, an awesome outdoor adventure spot. In winter, you will likely see birds such as Red-breasted Mergansers and Peregrine Falcons—at the wildlife refuge. The latter is not only the world’s fastest bird but also the world’s fastest animal. For those who love skating, The Wharf boasts an ice skating rink and is worth checking out.

For more tips on exploring this area, check out these blog posts:

Jekyll Island Club at Christmas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Holly Jolly Jekyll

Jekyll Island is home to more than a million lights during the Holly Jolly Jekyll season. The Great Tree alone has more than 45,000, which is more per square foot than the NYC Rockefeller Center Christmas tree! Purchase tickets online for the guided tram tours that take place on select nights. Trolley riders will enjoy festive holiday beverages, music, and a one-of-a-kind tour souvenir! 

Don’t miss the light parade, holiday fireworks, and special drive-in movie presentations.

Here’s a great article to help you do just that: Holly Jolly Jekyll.

Shenandoah National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Shenandoah National Park to Nashville

One of the best things about East Coast mountains (apart from their rich human history) is their year-round accessibility due to being lower in elevation than their counterparts out west. This trip is all about soaking up the best of both worlds—the human and the wilderness—from the panoramic views of Shenandoah’s Skyline Drive to a spooky tour of Mammoth Cave and even the lively honky-tonk bars in Nashville’s historic downtown. 

Shenandoah National Park in Northern Virginia is a hiker’s dream with 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail cutting right along the park’s spine. From there, it’s easy to continue onto the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Great Smoky Mountains. Head to Cades Cove to take in the centuries-old Cherokee and homestead history before veering north towards a self-guided tour of Mammoth Cave National Park.

If you need ideas, check out:

Worth Pondering…

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.

—Norman Vincent Peale

Poinsettia: The Christmas Flower That Blooms in the Dark

Poinsettia plants (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are popular Christmas decorations and are also the highest selling potted plant in the world

The poinsettia plant (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is the equivalent of Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You. You don’t even remember they exist until the first day you walk into a store in November and suddenly it’s the holiday season and Christmas is coming.

And then you’re positively bombarded with them until January 1 at which point Mariah Carey probably gets her giant royalty check for the year (a 2016 study by The Economist found that Carey makes about $2.5m per year for the song and the song had made $60m until that year) and goes on vacation and all the poinsettias just…disappear.

And just like Mariah’s popular Christmas bop, poinsettias are economically important—they’re the highest-selling potted plant in the world. During the holiday season, the six weeks leading up to Christmas, $250 million worth of poinsettia plants—70 million plants—are sold in the United States alone. The plants are even more popular in Europe. There are over 100 different varieties of poinsettia plants patented in the United States.

Poinsettia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

History of the Poinsettia

Poinsettias were cultivated by the Aztecs and though they didn’t grow in the capital city of Tenochtitlan—now Mexico City—Aztec royalty imported the flowers from lower elevations during the winter months for use as a medicine to control fevers and as a reddish-purple fabric dye.

The Nahua people of Mexico and Central America call these Aztec favorites cuetlaxochitl but they go by many other names, too—lobster flower, flame leaf flower, La Flor de la Nochebuena (Christmas Eve flower).

But poinsettia is probably the weirdest name of all because it’s just a shout-out to the American diplomat who is credited with being the first to bring them back to the U.S. from Mexico in the 19th century. Joel Roberts Poinsett was the first U.S. minister to Mexico and as an amateur botanist is said to have sent some cuttings back to his home in South Carolina from Southern Mexico in 1828 although there is no irrefutable proof of this.

Another Christmas tradition: Pecan Pralines a Sweet Tradition

Poinsettia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is known is that the plant was on display in Philadelphia in 1829, associated with Poinsett’s name. The plant was immediately popular and was known henceforth as the poinsettia although it didn’t receive its official Latin name until 1934 when German botanist Karl Willde was given a cutting by a Scottish friend who had seen it in Philadelphia and named it Euphorbia pulcherrima.

In the 1920s the Ecke family of Encinitas, California started farming poinsettias and they tirelessly pushed them as a symbol of the Christmas season. Today, around 70 percent of the poinsettia plants you buy in the United States come from Ecke Ranch and poinsettia care is their lifeblood.

Poinsettia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Caring for Poinsettias

The length of time your poinsettia will give you pleasure in your home is dependent on the maturity of the plant when you buy it, and how you treat the plant. With care, poinsettias should retain their beauty for weeks and some varieties will stay attractive for months.

After you have made your poinsettia selection, make sure it is wrapped properly because exposure to low temperatures even for a few minutes can damage the bracts and leaves.

Unwrap your poinsettia carefully and place it in an indirect light. Six hours of light daily is ideal. Keep the plant from touching cold windows.

Keep poinsettias away from warm or cold drafts from radiators, air registers, open doors, and windows.

Poinsettia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ideally, poinsettias require daytime temperatures of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures of around 55 degrees. High temperatures will shorten the plant’s life. Move the plant to a cooler room at night, if possible.

Check the soil daily. Be sure to punch holes in foil so water can drain into a saucer. Water when soil is dry. Allow water to drain into the saucer and discard excess water. Wilted plants will tend to drop bracts sooner.

Fertilize the poinsettia if you keep it past the holiday season. Apply a houseplant fertilizer once a month. Do not fertilize when it is in bloom.

With good care, a poinsettia will last 6-8 weeks in your home or RV.

Poinsettia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to keep a Poinsettia alive

Every houseplant—even a hyper-seasonal one—is kept alive somewhere year-round. Poinsettias hail from the mid-elevation regions of Mexico and Central America where they can grow over 10 feet tall as a perennial winter-flowering shrub with milky sap and branches so long they sometimes look like vines.

The big, showy red, white, or pink flowers we’re used to seeing aren’t actually the poinsettia’s flowers at all, but modified leaves called bracts. The flower buds are the small yellow buds in the middle of the colorful bracts.

Another Christmas tradition: The Holiday Season Favorite Veggie: Sweet Potato or Yam?

Poinsettia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When you buy a poinsettia at the grocery store it comes already sporting its brightly colored, fancy bracts. You have no idea how hard it was to get them there. Fritz Bahr, the author of Fritz Bahr’s commercial floriculture: a practical manual for the retail grower (1937), described the delicate and finicky poinsettia thusly: “Perhaps no other plant or flower we handle during Christmas week is more short lived, wilts quicker, or is more disappointing to those who receive it; yet, when the next Christmas comes around, there comes again the same demand for poinsettias and the disappointments of a year ago are all forgotten.”

Over time, floriculturists overcame some of these problems but until the mid-1950s, growing poinsettias and getting them into the hands of Christmas revelers in relatively good shape was a real trick. That was, until somebody realized poinsettias need just one thing to turn their green bracts red, pink, or white: total darkness.

In order to induce your poinsettia plant to create flower buds and to change the color of its leaves from green in time for Christmas, it must be kept in complete darkness for 16 hours per day. The witholding of light prevents the plant from producing chlorophyll which is what makes plant parts green. This changes the bracts to red, pink, or white, depending on the variety of poinsettia.

So, somewhere around September 21—right around the fall equinox—pull your poinsettia out of its sunny window and move it into 16 hours of uninterrupted darkness (put the plant under a box if necessary to provide total darkness), alternating with 8 hours of bright light every day.

Poinsettia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

During the dark period, the plant cannot receive even the slightest bit of light at any time. This applies to your year-old poinsettia as well: If you want your plant to produce flower buds again and to change color, it’s the daily length of complete darkness, not bright daylight that matters most. Discontinue this around Thanksgiving.

Another Christmas tradition: O Christmas Tree, Don’t Fall Off my SUV

After Thanksgiving, keep your poinsettia in bright light or the full sun of a sunny window, not keeping the potting soil moist or adding excess water but watering it when the well-drained soil is dry to the touch. Poinsettias prefer temperatures around or above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. They will bloom from Christmas until about April—at this point, it’s a good idea to cut your poinsettia down to a 3- to 8-inch stem and let it regrow starting the process over again until the next year.

Poinsettia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Are Poinsettias poisonous to pets and children?

One common urban legend about poinsettias is that they’re toxic to people and animals. One Ohio State University study showed that a 50-pound child would have to eat over 1 pound of poinsettia leaves—between 500 and 600 leaves—for toxicity to become a problem. However, they certainly don’t taste very good and the child who ate them would probably get a terrible tummy ache long before they were poisoned.

The milky sap of the poinsettia is another matter. Most members of the Euphorbia family have toxic sap but the toxin in poinsettias is very mild. However, those with sensitive skin should avoid touching poinsettia sap, just in case.

Worth Pondering…

Flowers are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities in the world.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

32 Best Christmas Gifts for RV Owners (2023)

The best holiday gifts for RV owners include outdoor gear, interior decor, travel entertainment, kitchen gadgets, and much more. Here’s an ultimate list of gifts in all price ranges.

Whether your RVer likes practical gifts, fun gifts, or unique gifts, there’s something for every RVer on this list.

This article will be your one-stop shop for every RVer you want to buy a gift for!

Here is my ultimate list of the best Christmas gift for RV owners broken into the following categories:

  • Outside the RV: Camping essentials
  • Inside the RV: Home, bath, and storage
  • RV lifestyle tech: Remote workers
  • RV safety essentials
  • Fiction books, movies, and games for RVers
  • RV kitchen supplies

Each category has a range of options, big and small, cheap and luxurious! So be sure to skim the whole list to find the perfect gift for your RVer.

Outside the RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Outside the RV: Camping essentials

1. Outdoor portable propane fire pit

This is a great gift for those RVers who love to enjoy an outdoor fire but do not want to lug or hassle with firewood. It can be turned on and off quickly so you only have to hassle with a fire when you are ready to enjoy it.

2. Wireless backup camera for motorhome

A backup motorhome camera can be the perfect gift to ease the tension of having to back up such a large vehicle. Not only does it cut down on the driver’s stress level but it can be safer for everyone.

If this gift caught your attention, you should check out 7 Pro Tips for Backing up a Motorhome.

3. Tool set

This is one of the best gifts for RV owners who like practical gifts. This toolset can come in handy for many issues an RV owner might face from a loose screen door to a stuck trailer hitch.

This universal tool kit can easily be stored in an outdoor hatch (on the curbside), utility closet, or cabinet. If you’d like to see more tool gifts for RVers, go to What Every RVer Needs in Their Basic Tool Kit.

4. RV state sticker map

One thing that most RVers love to do is track and talk about where they have been. This sticker map lets them track everywhere they’ve been in the United States in a visually appealing way (Canadian maps are also available).

It is weather-resistant so can be mounted outside or inside the RV. It’s a nice, decorative reminder of travels and a great ice-breaker for those wanting to make friends while camping.

Christmas gifts for RVers © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Magnetic hide-a-key case

A magnetic hide-a-key case is a perfect stocking stuffer. This little box can save your RVer from being stranded (it happens way more often than it should).

It’ll also save you from having to frantically express mail or drive their spare RV key to them! Having some kind of hide-a-key is a must-have for every RVer.

6. Folding step stool

A step stool is a super practical gift for an RV owner making it easier to get in and out of the RV and to access the ladder and awnings among lots of other uses. A folding step stool is great because it collapses to easily store in the RV when it’s not being used. Interior folding steps are also available.

7. Hammock

Hammocks would make a fun gift idea for an RV owner to bring some comfiness to their outdoor space when they stop to camp. They can just keep the hammock in the RV and when they get to that epic campsite can set up a cozy reading or napping nook in the trees.

Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Georgia State Parks passes & Friends membership

Gift a year of the great outdoors with Georgia State Parks passes or annual membership to the Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites. The combo pass package grants access to more than 60 attractions across the state and memberships have several perks including complimentary nights at the campsites, discounted lodge rooms, and free picnic shelter rentals. Plan a getaway to a state park.

9. Give the gift of the outdoors

Join the Texas State Parks’ 100-year celebration with the 2023 Texas State Parks ornament. This special ornament is crafted on metal and features a laser-cutting technique used to create a distinct dot for every one of Texas’s 89 State Parks. Each ornament is $19.95 plus tax.

Gift cards can be used for park passes, entry and overnight fees, and in-store purchases. 

Inside the RV: Home, bath, and storage

Throw pillow © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Cute and funny RV throw pillows

RVers love multifunctional items and throw pillows offer comfort while beautifying their RV. Plus, they can be easily exchanged when your RV wants to update their interior design.

11 Folding step stool

This practical gift would come in handy for any RVer. It folds flat for easy storage and can easily be stored under the sink or in a closet. It can even be tucked away under a couch or bed if they are elevated above the floor. If your RVer is vertically challenged this is a must-have.

12. Shower bag caddy

If your RVer regularly uses campground showers this is an excellent gift for them. It’ll make trudging to the shower that much easier and keep their items clean and organized.

You can also turn the bag into a gift basket by adding shower shoes and a travel hair dryer. But for those who mostly shower inside their RV…

13. Adhesive shower caddy

For RVers who mostly use their RV shower a caddy set helps make them feel at home.

Life is a beautiful ride in an RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

14. Hanging closet organizer

Maximizing closet space is always a challenge for RVers. A hanging closet organizer is a game-changer.

15. Charcoal air purifier

If you’re spending an extended amount of time in an RV you might start to notice that it starts smelling a little less than fresh. Charcoal air purifiers naturally absorb odors without adding a fake scent. They can be stashed or hung around the RV to keep it smelling nice and it will be a much-appreciated gift for motorhome and trailer owners.

RV lifestyle tech: Remote work and RV office

Remote working (whether full-time or part-time) has seriously grown in popularity in recent years. More and more RVers are trading in their home office for a mobile office in their RV.

Throw pillow © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

16. HP 2700 All-in-one printer

The wireless HP 2700 series allows you to easily print documents when you are on the go. It is lightweight, compact, and prints high-quality, crisp documents, and photos. 

17. Cell or Wi-Fi booster

Getting away from it all is important but when your family members are on the road for weeks at a time, staying connected is important, too. A Wi-Fi or cell booster will extend and expand any available signal. That could mean taking a campground Wi-Fi signal and making it stronger or improving cellular coverage when they’re out and about.

RV safety essentials

I know the safety of your RVer is of utmost importance to you. That’s why the following safety essentials can make great gifts for RVers.

For one, they bring peace of mind to you. For two, they fill in the void of often overlooked items your RVer sorely needs, an oversight that can leave them in a dangerous situation.

Smoke alarm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

18. Natural gas and propane detector

Carbon monoxide poisoning is an all-too-real threat to RVers’ well-being. Most RVs come standard with CO detectors but some older models do not. Not to mention the ones that need replacement.

19. First alert EZ fire spray

In addition to their standard RV fire extinguisher every RVer should have this quick-and-easy extinguishing aerosol spray. It’s lightweight and as easy as pushing the top to use which is ideal for sudden BBQ or RV kitchen fires. Or even for campfires that jump the fire ring.

20. She’s Birdie personal safety alarm

Originally designed as a personal safety alarm for women, this loud siren is now popular among men, too. It’s a great gift for solo RVers and boondockers who often camp overnight in parking lots.

Many RVers attach it to their dog leashes or hiking backpacks in case they encounter a threat (whether person or animal) on their walks. But for bigger threats, your RVer will need the following…

21. Counter Assault bear spray

Encountering bears is a common occurrence while camping. And, unfortunately these encounters have led to more injuries and deaths than I care to mention.

This bear spray will give you peace of mind and truly help to protect your RVing loved one if they encounter a bear. We consider it a must-have for any RVer who camps in bear country (which covers a LOT of the U.S. and Canada).

Christmas gifts for RVers © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

22. Emergency roadside kit

While you can’t always prevent roadside emergencies you can at least be prepared for them. That’s when a good emergency roadside kit comes in handy.

This post will also take you to 23 Must-Have Items for your RV Roadside Emergency Kit.

You can buy a premade kit, make your own, or buy individual items as stocking stuffers.

23. Emergency first aid kit

RVers are usually good at putting a first aid kit in their RV when they first buy it. However, we are often terrible about checking expiration dates and restocking used supplies.

That’s why an all-purpose first aid kit is great for any RVer. Even if they already have one in their RV, they can easily slide this one into their hiking backpack or bike pack.

Fiction books, movies, and games for RVers

Nature offers plenty of entertainment but RVers still need to entertain themselves on lazy afternoons, in the evenings, or on long road trips.

24. Thelma & Louise

Snuggling up to a movie after a great day on the trail is a perk of camping in an RV rather than a tent. There’s a movie for everyone on these lists that covers every genre including the classic Thelma & Louise.

25. Embroidery starter kit

If your RVer loves crafts or is looking for a new hobby an embroidery start kit is the way to go. It’s everything they need to get started in the world of embroidery.

But there are lots of crafty gifts and activities perfect for RVers!

Christmas gifts for RVers © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV kitchen supplies

26. Portable ice maker

Ice is often a luxury while RVing and one that many RVers don’t like going without.

A compact and affordable ice maker is the perfect gift.

27. Instant pot

While it’s not just RVers that adore the Instant Pot, it’s especially useful in an RV kitchen where space is super tight. The smallest Instant Pot (6 quarts) will still take up some space but it packs such a punch with what it can do that it’s totally worth it.

Of course, you can make hearty stews, rice, and grains in it but did you know you can also bake banana bread, make hard-boiled eggs, and even cook dessert in the Instant Pot? This is the gift that will keep on giving delicious meals!

Bonus gift ideas

The following are more of the best gifts for RV owners. From gift cards to national park passes here are more gift ideas to go.

Saguaro National Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

28. America the Beautiful Pass

One of the greatest things about RV travel is visiting the national parks. The annual America the Beautiful Pass costs $80 and gives your camping loved ones access to more than 2,000 parks and recreation sites across the country. The pass is good for 12 months and covers park admission for everyone in the entire vehicle. It’s a gift that’s appreciated all year long.

29. Benchmark Road and Recreation Atlas

Benchmark Road and Recreation Atlas books are available for many states and the information includes backcountry roads, trailheads, campgrounds, points of interest, hunting units, RV parks, golf, and boating locations .

30. Dyrt Pro membership

RVers are always looking for great new places to explore and beautiful campgrounds and RV parks. One of my favorite parts of RV living is all of the beautiful places we get to see while we are camping. A great membership to simplify the process of planning a camping trip and saving money is the Dyrt Pro membership.

31. Harvest Hosts membership

Want to give experiences instead of things to your RVer? A Harvest Hosts membership is the perfect option. It is a unique membership service that lets RVers camp overnight FOR FREE at lovely outdoor venues such as wineries, breweries, museums, farms, orchards, and creameries. There are more than 2,000 such places across North America to choose from.

There is also an upgraded membership where you can also camp overnight at golf courses.

White Sands National Park, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

32. Costco

There are many benefits to having a Costco membership especially during the holiday shopping season. Sure, the advent calendars are fun and the variety of small items for stocking stuffers is superb but there’s something else that is a far better bang for your buck.

Buying gift cards from the retailer may save you hundreds.

Whether you’re looking for gift cards for restaurants, movie theaters, stores, or theme parks, Costco has it all. Here the best deals on gift cards are right now:

  • $500 Southwest Airlines gift card for $449.99
  • $100 worth of Fogo de Chao gift cards for $79.99
  • $100 worth of Domino’s gift cards for $79.99
  • $100 worth of Peet’s Coffee gift cards for $79.99
  • $100 worth of California Pizza Kitchen gift cards for $79.99
  • $100 worth of Spafinder gift cards for $79.99
  • $100 worth of Chuck E. Cheese gift cards for $74.99
  • $100 Xbox digital download gift card for $89.99
  • $60 worth of Krispy Kreme gift cards for $44.99
  • $60 worth of Pinkberry gift cards for $47.99
  • $50 Cinemark Theatres gift card for $39.99

Make sure to periodically check the Costco website, especially during different holidays as the selection of gift cards may vary by season and could be temporarily out of stock at certain times.

Worth Pondering…

Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.

—Dave Barry, Christmas Shopping: A Survivor’s Guide

Surprise, Surprise: A Ton of People Plan to Travel for the Holidays (2023)

Plus, most Americans say they don’t have much faith in airlines right now

Halloween is over, and pumpkins are being composted. And even if you aren’t someone who cues Mariah Carey’s holiday theme song as soon as the clock strikes midnight on November 1, you are already thinking about holiday travel.

And that’s going to be necessary considering that four different studies predict that most Americans will be traveling this season.

The 2023 holiday season is expected to be one the busiest on record with 122 million people or 63 percent of leisure travelers planning to travel between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Of those travelers, 20 million are planning to go RVing this holiday season, a 30 percent increase over 2022.

Christmas at Vista del Sol RV Resort in Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

55 percent of RVers plan to take a trip within three hours of home allowing for less time on the road and more time enjoying friends and family over the holidays. Millennials are more likely to stay closer to home with 61 percent planning a trip within 3 hours while 43 percent of Boomer respondents said they are planning trips more than 16 hours from home. 

According to the just-released RV Industry Association Holiday Travel Intentions Survey, the top reasons people are planning to go RVing are the love of road trips, the desire to travel in comfort, interest in exploring the great outdoors, and the affordability of RV travel. With RV vacations costing 50 percent less than comparable hotel and plane ride trips and a third less than hotel and car ride trips, RVing is an attractive option for people looking for the freedom to travel while also controlling their travel expenses.  

Another top reason people are choosing RV travel is their pets. 60 percent of RVers are planning to bring their pets with them rather than boarding them over the holidays. Of those sharing the trip with their furry family members, 87 percent will travel with at least one dog and 52 percent will travel with at least one cat.

Christmas at Whispering Oaks RV Park in Weimar, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Not all will hit the road though. 56 percent of those planning to use an RV this holiday season will park it at home and use it for guest accommodations. 49 percent will use it as an extra kitchen for food prep and storage.

“With the rush and stress that comes with traditional travel during the holidays, people are choosing RVing as a way to still travel and see friends and family but do so in a more relaxed and comfortable way,” says Craig Kirby, President & CEO of the RV Industry Association. “Whether using an RV for guests or bringing your pets along for the ride, RVing allows people to spend more quality time with those they love this holiday season.”

A second survey conducted by Enterprise Mobility found that 56 percent of Americans surveyed are planning at least one overnight trip 50+ miles away from home between November 2023 and January 2024 with 61 percent of those trips to take place in an owned or rented vehicle this holiday season.

48 percent of trips are planned to take place in a personal vehicle, just over one in ten (11 percent) are anticipated to be a rental vehicle, and 2 percent plan to utilize a rideshare service.

Just over a quarter (28 percent) plan to use loyalty points toward booking travel and a third of those plan to use their points toward a rental vehicle.​

Americans who are traveling are planning an average of two trips this season with Christmas being the most popular holiday for travel (66 percent) followed by Thanksgiving (49 percent).

RV decorated for the holidays © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Of all holiday trips planned in the U.S. more than half are to visit friends and family (58 percent) but almost one quarter (23 percent) are purely for leisure, a vacation getaway without visiting friends or family. And December is the busiest month for travel over the holiday season with 46 percent of all travel days happening in this month (departures and returns).

In addition, nearly half (46 percent) of trips are less than 200 miles from home and slightly more than half (54 percent) are 200 or more miles away.

Generationally, Millennials (age 27-42) are the most likely to have travel plans this holiday season (62 percent) while Generation Z (age 18-26) is the least likely (43 percent) and 53 percent of both Generation X (43-58) and Baby Boomers (59+) are planning to travel this holiday season. Of all the trips planned this season, Gen Z is least likely to have a trip planned to visit friends and family (47 percent) but most likely to have a vacation getaway planned, not visiting friends or family (27 percent).

When taking a holiday road trip the majority of Americans (90 percent) enjoy listening to at least some holiday music.

The top three domestic destinations this year are warmer states including California, Florida, and Texas.

RV prepped for Christmas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to a survey conducted by Motel 6 of 2,000 Americans, 84 percent of respondents plan to travel to at least one gathering this year with at least 52 percent of respondents expecting to take multiple trips.

In another survey conducted by The Vacationer which polled 1,013 Americans, 67.23 percent of respondents said they plan on traveling for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or both. For Thanksgiving, specifically, The Vacationer study found that an estimated 117 million American adults plan to travel which was 2 percent more than last year’s estimates.

While the Motel 6 data and the Vacationer data differ, both studies show that well over half of the population plans to travel for the holidays. Given how crowded roads and airports were in recent years during the winter holidays this information serves as an indicator that we can expect the same thing this year.

There’s not much confidence in airlines from those who plan on traveling for the holidays which isn’t too surprising considering the delays, cancellations, and general chaos of recent years. The Vacationer study revealed that 59.23 percent of respondents have little to no confidence in airlines being able to avoid excessive delays and cancellations during the holidays.

RV decorated for Christmas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Looking for more travel tips?

Whether you need destination guides or camping suggestions or make sure your RV is prepped for travel, I’ve got you covered. Keep reading for RV travel hacks and everything you need to help you plan your next big adventure.

Worth Pondering…

Give thanks not just on Thanksgiving Day but every day of your life. Appreciate and never take for granted all that you have.

—Catherine Pulsifer

The All-time Coldest Temperatures Ever Recorded in Each State

Record-breaking cold, life-threatening wind chills plunge 150 million Americans into deep freeze

A bitter and potentially deadly blast of arctic air is continuing to charge its way across the U.S., dropping wind chills to as low as between negative 50 and negative 70 degrees across the northern Plains and 30 below zero in the Midwest triggering rare Hard Freeze Warnings along the Gulf Coast and helping to fuel a monster blizzard that will bring those frigid temperature across the Great Lakes and into the Northeast.

The dangerously cold arctic air began its week-long journey by surging to the south out of Canada last weekend dropping low temperatures Monday morning to negative 20 degrees and lower across northern Montana.

Record breaking cold and snow © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As the arctic blast brings bitterly cold temperatures to much of the U.S. through Christmas weekend, you might be wondering how low the temperature has ever gone in your state.

All but one of the 50 states has documented a temperature below zero with Hawaii being the sole outlier having only dipped as low as 12 degrees. Nearly a dozen states have plunged to minus 50 degrees or colder.

January and February comprise the coldest time of the year for the majority of the U.S. so it should come as no surprise that’s when most of the records were achieved. However, there are a few exceptions to the rule.

Five states set their low-temperature records in late December including Nebraska, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.

Record breaking cold and snow © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Meanwhile, Hawaii’s all-time record low wasn’t even achieved during the winter. The Mauna Kea Observatory at an elevation of 13,796 feet on the Big Island of Hawaii dipped to 12 degrees on May 17, 1979.

The lowest temperature ever recorded in the U.S. was minus 80 degrees in Prospect Creek, Alaska, north of Fairbanks, on January 23, 1971.

In the Lower 48, Montana holds the record for the all-time coldest temperature at minus 70 degrees, set at Rogers Pass—on the Continental Divide at 5,610 feet above sea level—on January 20, 1954.

Illinois is the most recent state to reach its lowest temperature on record. Mount Carroll, in the northwestern corner of the state plunged to minus 38 degrees on January 31, 2019.

Mount Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The longest-standing record in the U.S. is held by Mount Washington, New Hampshire, the highest mountain in the Northeast where the temperature bottomed out at minus 50 degrees nearly 140 years ago on January 22, 1885.

In the Northeast, New York can claim the coldest temperature ever recorded in the region with an all-time record low of minus 52 degrees set in Old Forge on February 18, 1979. Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine all share the same record of minus 50 degrees.

Record breaking cold and snow © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

All-time records in the South might be colder than you think. Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Carolina have all dipped into the teens below zero while Alabama has been as cold as minus 27 degrees and Tennessee as low as minus 32 degrees.

The Midwest has a large range of low-temperature records with North Dakota and Minnesota claiming minus 60 degrees as their all-time record lows but states south of the Great Lakes such as Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio have only dropped into the minus 30s due to winds off the lakes keeping temperatures relatively higher.

Most of the all-time record lows in the Western states were documented in the higher elevations. California’s record of minus 45 degrees was set in the heart of the Sierra Nevada in Boca at an elevation of 5,528 feet above sea level on January 20, 1937. The record low in Arizona was achieved at Hawley Lake where the temperature plunged to minus 40 degrees at 8,200 feet on January 7, 1971.

Record breaking cold and snow © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The chart below shows the all-time record low in each state according to data from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

State               Minimum Temperature         Date                            Location

Alabama          -27 degrees F                          January 30, 1966        New Market

Alaska             -80 degrees F                          January 23, 1971        Prospect Creek Camp

Arizona           -50 degrees F                          January 7, 1971          Hawley Lake

Arkansas         -29 degrees F                          February 13, 1905      Gravett

California       -45 degrees F                          January 20, 1937        Boca

Colorado         -61 degrees F                          February 1, 1985        Maybell

Connecitut      -32 degrees F                          February 16, 1943      Falls Village

Delaware         -17 degrees F                          January 17, 1893        Millsboro

Florida                -2 degrees F                   February 13, 1899      Tallahassee

Georgia           -17 degrees F                          January 27, 1940        Beatum

Hawaii            12 degrees F                           May 17, 1979              Mauna Kea

Idaho               -60 degrees F                          January 18, 1943        Island Park Dam

Illinois            -38 degrees F                          January 31, 2019        Mt. Carroll

Indiana           -36 degrees F                          January 19, 1994        New Whiteland

Iowa                -47 degrees F                          January 12, 1912        Washta

Kansas            -40 degrees F                          February 13, 1905      Lebanon

Kentucky        -37 degrees F                          January 19, 1994        Shelbyville

Louisiana        -16 degrees F                          February 13, 1899      Minden

Maine              -50 degrees F                          January 16, 2009        Big Black River

Maryland        -40 degrees F                          January 13, 1912        Oakland

Massachusetts -35 degrees F                      January 5, 1904          Tauton

Michigan        -51 degrees F                          February 19, 1934      Vanderbilt

Minnesota       -60 degrees F                        February 2, 1996        Tower

Mississippi     -19 degrees F                          January 30, 1966        Corrinth

Missouri         -40 degrees F                          February 13, 1905      Warsaw

Montana          -70 degrees F                          January 20, 1954        Rogers Pass

Nebraska         -47 degrees F                          February 12, 1899      Bridgeport

Nevada            -50 degrees F                          January 8, 1937          San Jacinto

New Hampshire -50 degrees F                   January 22, 1985        Mount Washington

New Jersey     -34 degrees F                          January 5, 1902          River Vale

New Mexico   -50 degrees F                          February 1, 1951        Gavilan

New York       -52 degrees F                          February 18, 1879      Old Forge

North Carolina -34 degrees F                      January 21, 1985        Mount Mitchell

North Dakota  -60 degrees F                       February 15, 1936      Parshall

Ohio                -39 degrees F                          February 10, 1899      Milligan

Oklahoma       -31 degrees F                          February 10, 1911      Nowata

Oregon              -54 degrees F                          February 9, 1933        Ukiah

Pennsylvania  -42 degrees F                          January 5, 1904          Smethport

Rhode Island   -28 degrees F                          January 11, 1942        Wood River Junction

South Carolina -19 degrees F                         January 21, 1985        Caesar’s Head

South Dakota  -58 degrees F                          February 17, 1936      McIntosh

Tennessee       -32 degrees F                          December 30, 1917     Mountain City

Texas              -23 degrees F                          February 8, 1933        Seminole

Utah                -50 degrees F                          January 5, 1913          Strawberry Tunnel

Vermont          -50 degrees F                          December 30, 1933     Bloomfield

Virginia          -30 degrees F                          January 21, 1985        Mountain Lake

Washington    -48 degrees F                          December 30, 1968     Mazama and Winthrop

West Virginia -37 degrees F                          December 30, 1917     Lewisburg

Wisconsin       -55 degrees F                          February 2, 1996        Couderay

Wyoming        -66 degrees F                          February 9, 1933        Yellowstone NP

Record breaking cold and snow © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What about the Great White North, you ask?

The following is a list of the all-time low temperatures ever recorded in Canada’s 10 provinces.

Alberta                 -78 degrees F (-61.1 C)    January 11, 1911        Fort Vermillion           

British Columbia -74 degrees F (-58.9 C)     January 31, 1947        Smith River

Manitoba        -63 degrees F (-52.8 C)          January 9, 1899          Norway House

New Brunswick -52 degrees F (-46.7 C)       January 18, 1925        Chipman

Newfoundland -60 degrees F (-55.1 C)         February 17, 1972      Esker

Nova Scotia    -42 degrees F (-41.1 C)          January 31, 1920        Upper Stewlacke

Ontario            -73 degrees F (-58.3 C)          January 23, 1935        Iroquois Falls

Prince Edward Island -35 degrees F (-37.2 C) January 26, 1884      South Kildare

Quebec            -66 degrees F (-54.4 C)          February 5, 1923        Douset

Saskatchewan -70 degrees F (-56.7 C)          February1, 1893         Prince Albert

Record breaking cold and snow © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A careful study of the above chart reveals that the lowest temperature ever recorded in the United States (-80 degrees F in Alaska) is colder than the all-time low in Canada (-61 degrees in Alberta). But, how can that be?

In addition to the above 10 provinces Canada also has two far-north Territories—Northwest Territories and Yukon. The all-time low temperature recorded in Yukon was -81 degrees F (-63.0 C), 1 degree F colder than Alaska’s all-time low of -80 degrees F.

Record breaking cold and snow © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Merry Christmas! May your days be filled with peace, hope, and joy this holiday season as we celebrate the birth of the Christ Child!

Worth Pondering…

Christmas is the day that holds all time together.

—Alexander Smith

I’ve never gotten used to winter and never will.

—Jamaica Kincaid

Do You Really Know A Christmas Carol?

A story of redemption and self-discovery

Like many Christmas traditions and trappings, a fresh look at them may return luster to a dullness that can build up over time. In fact, from a cultural perspective, such an exercise is part of the whole purpose of Christmas and the approaching New Year.

It’s a time to consider ourselves in a new light and appreciation our blessings. Serving as a means to accomplish this is a story that stands as largely unfamiliar although many claim otherwise: Charles Dickens’s 1843 masterpiece, A Christmas Carol.

The Christmas Season © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This is a story that everyone knows yet few remember for what it truly is: a tale that sings out like a caroler pounding at the door on the night before Christmas. Its purpose is to awaken us to the reality of our life journey and the need to love one another along our way.

A Christmas Carol is a ghost story in which Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserable old sinner and tightfisted financier, is haunted on Christmas Eve by his business partner, Jacob Marley, who’s been dead as a doornail for seven years. Scrooge learns from Marley that torments await him in the afterlife for his misspent time.

The Christmas Season © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

To sidestep the terrible path that Marley’s ghost treads, Scrooge accepts visitations from three spirits who come to offer him reclamation. They show Scrooge how his misery is self-inflicted and how much happiness he stands to gain by simply making others happy.

From his boyhood memories to his own chilling deathbed, the spirits lead  Scrooge on a difficult, merry, and disturbing journey through time and space to prove to him the profound purpose of every human life—one most clearly seen in the humane light of Christmas.

The Christmas Season © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As it turns out, Ebenezer Scrooge has proven a soothsayer of our times, for by and large, Christmas actually is something of a humbug these days. It preaches peace but breeds pressure. The ritual of Walmart has replaced the ritual of the wassail. Santa Claus is not really St. Nicholas. The holidays are not really holy days. Christmas is a lost and long-forgotten mystery in need of a great awakening which is the thundering message of Charles Dickens’s carol.

For this reason, A Christmas Carol is an important voice at Christmas, and unlike the customary Christmas fare, it is anything but warm and fuzzy.

The Christmas Season © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There is nothing warm about the infernal furnaces that stir Jacob Marley’s hair, or the heartbroken young Scrooge abandoned by his father at boarding school over the holidays, or the cold corpse of Tiny Tim surrounded by his family, or the frozen corpse of Ebenezer Scrooge himself alone and unloved with nightshirt and blankets torn away by his cackling charwoman to be sold in a greasy bone shop.

There is nothing fuzzy about neighborly charity or a changed heart—of which this book boasts along with its horrors. And it is at Christmas that people should face these realities for what they are.

The Christmas Season © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Christmas “is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices,” remind the two gentlemen collecting for the poor in Scrooge’s money-changing hole. And the heartbreaking happiness of Christmas resounds in their words bringing in the dawn of Christmas be they as cold as Scrooge or as warm as his nephew.

His nephew salutes the season “as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time … in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

The Christmas Season © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There could hardly be a more beautiful or unique expression of the Christmas spirit and we shouldn’t forget it for that distinction alone.

Scrooge’s self-discovery and desire to retract his selfishness is the fruit of the Christmas season. With Scrooge, all can realize a need to purge before answering The Ghost of Christmas’s booming call, “Come in! and know me better man,” and discover the men and women sharing this earth with us, be they lame or blind. And in the words of Tiny Tim, remember the one “who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.”

The Christmas Season © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The remarkable power of this story is that it is about everyone, awakening memories of who we are and why we are. But to live the lesson of examination and transformation presented by Dickens is a lofty test. We can share the journey with Ebenezer Scrooge by moving away from the “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner” into a larger world as we helplessly face eternity.

A Christmas Carol is a song of preparation, passage, and praise. It is indeed a Christmas carol, and the process it initiates is not an easy one. But as the ghostly mentors of Scrooge held up a mirror to him, so too must we face our own pasts, presents, and futures.

Many, hearkening to this call, swear to lead a changed life that will honor the spirit of Christmas and try to keep it all the year by living in the past, the present, and the future.

Let the spirits come. Let them wake us from slumber. A Christmas Carol prepares us not only for Christmas Day but also for every day: for Life, in all its ups and downs. And may it inspire every one of us to cry, “God bless us every one!”

Worth Pondering…

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.

—Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Fort Langley: The Fort, Charming Village, and Movie Set

Being in this fairytale town is like being the main character in a cozy romantic comedy

I’m not, nor have I ever been, a Gilmore Girls fan but the one thing that always stuck with me was the cozy village vibes where the girls lived. Something about it—the cordial neighbors, the movie-set appearance of the store-fronts, the small-town charm. Mmmmm yes, warm me up in that blanket.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located an hour’s drive east of Vancouver, Fort Langley is that blanket. This is the place! Not literally, of course—Gilmore Girls was filmed in Burbank—but it has that same feeling like you’re walking around a movie set. It has antique shops and ice cream and a restaurant in an old cabin and an excellent book store on the corner of an old building that, again, feels like a movie set. Then, walk a few minutes east of there and you have the original settlement of Fort Langley, a national historic site reminiscent of another movie set, The Witch, with (I assume) far less horror. 

Fort Langley National Historic Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Best of all are the parks bordering the village including Derby Reach which includes an easy hiking trail that takes about an hour to complete ending up at an old farmhouse and barn, if you’re into that kinda thing. 

Tracing its origins to the beginning of settling British Columbia, Fort Langley was a trading and military outpost, one of the Hudson Bay’s fur trading posts. Additionally, it also acted as a gateway to the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush in 1858.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It is one of the oldest settlements in British Columbia—even before Vancouver itself. If you take a stroll in the Fort Langley community, it is very different from the ruggedness of just a few generations prior.

Easily accessible via the Trans-Canada Highway and Glover Road, today Fort Langley is a popular tourism attraction destination that continuously draws visitors from around the world.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fort Langley’s historic area is home to the Langley Centennial Museum, Fort Langley Community Hall, CN Station, and many beautifully restored vintage buildings that are rich in heritage and value.

The commercial and retail area of Fort Langley is referred to as the village by area residents. Both residents and visitors alike are attracted to its selection of high-end boutiques and quaint shops. Art galleries, bistros and brew-tasting houses, vintage antique shops, restaurants and cafes are all a part of what draws in daily tourists, shoppers and explorers.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Countless recreational activities are available in and around Fort Langley. From parks and camping to the Fort-to-Fort Trail, from golf courses to rowing on the Fraser River, from the outdoor pool to festivals, Fort Langley is an ideal place for outdoor enthusiasts. Festivals and events are held year-round in Fort Langley including the popular Cranberry Festival, Food Truck Festival, May Day Parade, Canada Day, Jazz & Arts Festival, Fort International Film Festival, and Fort Beer & Food Festival just to name a few.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fort Langley’s beautiful streets, artfully appointed boutiques and charming, village-like atmosphere seem to have been tailor-made for a feel-good romance tale or festive comedy caper. That’s why many producers of made-for-TV features return to Langley, year after year.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Part of Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas line-up, Five More Minutes: Moments Like These is a romantic movie set against the backdrop of the holiday season. Directed by Kevin Fair, the film revolves around a young widow whose Christmas wish unexpectedly comes true. Kaitlyn relocates to Los Angeles with her young son Adam in hopes of a new beginning after losing her husband unexpectedly one Christmas Eve. As a single mother, Kaitlyn worries about her son, Adam, who is becoming more reclusive and wishes he could have just five more minutes with his dad.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kaitlyn meets Matthew, a contractor and their feelings for one another begin to grow. The film ticks all the boxes of being the perfect heartwarming Christmas film with kids, families, and the holiday spirit. Additionally, the settings and backdrop elevate the festive spirit of Christmas, a colorful time that heals your heart and brings people closer.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Five More Minutes: Moments Like These was filmed in and around Fort Langley. The region is well known for its dynamic culture and active way of life which add to the holiday and festive feel of the holiday movie. The film’s story is set during winter while filming took place in October 2022. The crew had to create artificial snow in different ways like snow blankets, fire retardant foams, and other techniques. To film interior and outdoor sequences against suitable backdrops, it appears that the cast and crew traveled around the village.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Several other Christmas movies including A Kindhearted Christmas, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, The Nine Lives of Christmas, Christmas Getaway, When Christmas Was Young, Christmas Bridesmaid, and others, have also been shot in Fort Langley because of its beautiful neighborhood.

It may be cheesy and it may have totally tanked at the box office but there’s just something about I’ll Be Home for Christmas that brings that ’90s magic during the holidays. In case you missed it, I’ll Be Home for Christmas follows a California college student named Jake who winds up stranded in the desert a few days before Christmas. When everything seems to go wrong, Jake embarks on a cross-country road trip trying to make it home in time for Christmas. Especially since winning his father’s 1957 Porsche is on the line.

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Production took place all over Metro Vancouver including Fort Langley, Port Coquitlam, and North Vancouver which stood in for the towns Jake travels through. Filming for the Santa Claus marathon scene was shot in Fort Langley. Fort Langley truly captures the Christmas spirit making the township one of the best places to shoot a holiday film.

Fraser River at Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Talking about it, Erinn Kredba, Executive Director at Tourism Langley, said, “Made-for-TV holiday movies herald the start of the festive season for many people. For me personally, it’s always exciting to spot Township-based businesses in these films. With our beautiful backdrops and charming businesses, including farms, restaurants and wineries, it feels like Langley was made for the movies!”

Fort Langley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kredba added, “We wanted to create a fun way for people to feel like they’re in a holiday movie by visiting these spots during this festive time of year.”  She added, “Our hope is that by visiting some of the locations where these feel-good holiday movies have been featured, it will ignite the holiday spirit.”

Worth Pondering…

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.

—Henry Miller