(Originally posted on 12/30/18 on my Zoot580.blogspot.com page.)
I’d like to talk a little about something that means the world to me. And no, you don’t have to celebrate Christmas to appreciate the sentiment.
It all began when I was young, sitting in the kitchen, helping my mother crack walnuts and pecans for her Christmas pies and “fruits and nuts” bowl. This seemed to be something we did every year without fail on Christmas Eve. The music was always playing on the “HiFi” (Ooooh, remember that term for the record player &/or radio?) and I could always count on certain Christmas tunes to play around the clock. One of which, was “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole. As a result, that song always takes me back to those moments with mom, listening to her sing.
My father had his song as well. You could always count on him to sing Melvin Franklin’s bass part on “Silent Night” by the Temptations.
And of course, there were the classics, “Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano and “This Christmas” by Donna Hathaway, plus the Burl Ives tunes we heard while watching the Christmas specials about Rudolph, Frosty, Santa, etc.
So for years, Christmas was about gifts, family, my childhood home, the Christmas “Macy’s Department Store” lighting display from my next door neighbors, food and MUSIC.
I always managed to make it home from Florida A&M University for Christmas, so that tradition could continue. But sadly, the times eventually came when I had to spend my holidays in Tallahassee. It wasn’t a bad thing, but obviously things would be different. So how could I replicate the feeling without the environment? You guessed it, MUSIC! So I put my favorite Christmas songs on a cassette tape to enjoy the night before and the morning of; always kicking it off with Nat King Cole, then The Temptations.
As the years continued, I felt it necessary to share my Christmas passion with others, dismissing the traditional Christmas card that people receive, read, call back to give thanks, then eventually discard. Each year, I purchased a bulk of blank cassettes, made copies of the list and sent them out. Believe you, me – people loved it! Something they could actually keep and use for years to come.
When the audio cassette tape revolution got replaced by compact discs, I had to evolve as well. And now I could get creative. Although my list was comprised of mostly R&B tunes, I modified the playlist for those that preferred the more “traditional” songs by Burl Ives, The Carpenters, Dean Martin, Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers, Brenda Lee, Bing Crosby, etc. Some got a combination of both or multiple CDs (depends on how much I liked you). I took it a step further and created CD labels with pictures of my boys. I eventually had to stop that because as people’s computer towers heated up, the adhesive weakened on the labels, causing them to separate and get stuck inside their player after too long. Thank God laser etching finally came along. I could then burn the CD label right into the disc.
Nowadays, I just post the songs on social media in my #25DaysOfChristmasMusic series, so people can link to and enjoy a song a day.
I had no idea that this tradition would become so important in my family…
To be continued in Part 2.
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