Despite struggling financially, my mom always made the holidays a treat for me and my sibs. We always had a Christmas tree, the house was always filled with the scent of cookies baking and there was always, always music. Oh, the music of it all! Mom would go to the Firestone store or to the Marathon gas station every year and pick up their annual Christmas album to play on our old console stereo. Remember when a record player was a piece of furniture? And when holiday record albums were like 99 cents or at most $1.99? We had them all. I can still sing every song…
I loved every song–Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops version of “Sleigh Ride,” Andy Williams’s “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” Johnny Mathis’s “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” and Julie Andrews’s inspiring version of “Joy to the World.” We sang all over the house, watched all the holiday specials at my grandparents’ apartment (they had a color TV), and then sang the old carols again in church all month and particularly at Christmas Eve Candlelight service.
Music is how I know the holidays are on the way. Today, it’s James Taylor at Christmas with his gorgeous rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “River” and “Some Children See Him.” Andrea Bocelli and his kids singing “Do You Hear What I Hear?” The Eagles version of “Please Come Home for Christmas” and Josh Groban singing any Christmas song at all. Pandora’s Christmas channels from Christmas Classics to the St. Olaf Choir channel are on the Bluetooth speaker pretty much from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day.
One year, Mom brought home an album that was basically a very well-done version of a table read of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. We listened to that hour-long story every year, entranced by the voices of the ghosts, the characters of Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim and the story of old Scrooge whose heart was turned. When I got married and Mom moved to California, she gave away all her record albums. She didn’t want to cart the vinyl across the country and was getting rid of them, so I nabbed as many of the holiday ones that I could, including A Christmas Carol.
I played that story album for Son every year from the time he was born, and it became as much a part of his and Husband’s holiday memories as of mine. A few years ago, Husband and Son were turning our old vinyl into MP3s, and that scratched and tired old album appeared in the stack. Son used a program to clean up as much of the crack and pop as he could, and now we have it forever as an MP3. Husband and I listened to it again on Friday while we waited for Grandboy to arrive for Cookies with Poppy day. It’s just as affecting over 60 years later as it was the first time I heard it. The voices brought back memories of hot chocolate and cookies by the light of the Christmas tree with my sisters and brother and Mom, all of us enraptured by the old story. I still am…
Gratitude for this week: A lovely time at Yuletide with DIL and friends Ray and Bessie; Yuletide included a carriage ride and hot beverages after–such fun! Got a start on the new book; turned revision back to my editor on the book I just finished; red holiday nails and toenails!
Stay well, stay safe (masks, mes amies, it’s how to roll right now), be kind, and most of all, stay grateful. See you next week–on Christmas!