12 Days of Christmas Songs (#2) – “Have a Merry Merry Merry Merry Christmas”

During my childhood in Ohio in the 1960s, my mom (and grandmother and great-grandmother, for that matter) were fans of Ruth Lyons, a pioneering Cincinnati radio and television personality who began her career in the earliest days of commercial radio in the 1920s.

When I had a tonsilectomy in second grade, my hospital stay was considerably brightened when a cart was rolled into my room and I was allowed to select a toy to keep, courtesy of the Ruth Lyons Christmas Fund. In addition to her other talents, Ruth Lyons was a gifted songwriter. Every Christmas she wrote a new tune, which was sung on her television show and also released as a record, the proceeds going to the Christmas Fund.

My mom bought several of the records, and I grew up thinking these local (mostly Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana) 45 rpm singles were just as widely known as the Perry Como, Bing Crosby, and Andy Williams records we also played each holiday season. (Along with those great Firestone Christmas albums my parents picked up at the tire store each year 🙂 ) In the course of writing this post, I discovered that there is a CD compilation of 18 Ruth Lyons Christmas songs—which I was all set to purchase until I realized that it was available only through re-sellers. A “new” CD, still sealed, would cost $199. Nope.

While the most famous of Ruth Lyons’ Christmas songs is apparently “Let’s Light the Christmas Tree,” my personal favorite remains the cheery “Have a Merry Merry Merry Merry Christmas.” Both songs are on YouTube, and I’ve posted the “videos” below.

And a bonus: My mom used to make “Ruth Lyons’ Peanut Butter Fudge” during the holidays. You’ll find the recipe below, following the videos.

Ruth Lyons’ Peanut Butter Fudge (unofficial, my mom’s recipe 🙂 )

  1. Add 2 cups sugar, ¾ cup milk, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons vanilla into a pan.
  2. Boil without stirring to soft ball temperature (approx. 235 ºF); you can test in cold water. (Here’s a link to a YouTube video demonstrating the soft ball test.)
  3. Remove pan from heat immediately.
  4. Add ¾ cup peanut butter.
  5. Beat mixture until it loses its shine (to a dull look).
  6. Pour into greased pan.
  7. Let cool/harden. Slice into squares.

About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. I also volunteer with a Milwaukee homeless sanctuary, Repairers of the Breach, as chair of the Communications and Fund Development Committee.
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