The keyboard and singing violins of Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” pumped through the speakers, up the stairs and into the bedrooms. The musical call was made, summoning everyone from their beds. Everyone slowly but eagerly walked down the stairs into the dimly lit room, glowing with the invading light from the blanketing morning snow. The glow was enriched by the spectrum of colors emanating from the Christmas lights on the tree, reflecting off of the colored wrapping paper on the gifts below.
It was the mantra of the Davis family, coming together as one to the same tune as they had every year, which was followed by the Temptations’ “Silent Night”, then Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas”.
It was the same, but different.
This year, it wasn’t just the young’uns, who were now young men. Mom and Dad came down last. For the first time in over 30 years, the music was managed and presented by the third son, Brandon Michael.
If you’ve read my past blogs, specifically last Christmas’ stories, you know that every year, going back to my time as a child, The Christmas Song and Silent Night began the day for our family. When I got my own place after college, I continued that tradition, playing not only those songs, but a cassette tape full of Christmas tunes comprised of Soul/R&B and traditional holiday classics. That continued into dating, getting engaged, getting married and starting a family. As far back as my children can remember, those three songs kicked off every Christmas without fail. The order of remaining songs changed occasionally, often including new songs from various artists, but the original three were always the same, in that order.
But this time, about three weeks ago, my Brandon came to me and said, “Dad, if it’s ok with you, I wanna handle the music this year.” My boys had already told me years prior that when they got married and had their own families, they would preserve the tradition. Now here I was, here WE were, talking about someone else, other than myself, handling this Christmas.
I asked if he was dissatisfied with my music (which I’m sure he wasn’t, but I had to ask). He told me not at all, but he wanted to give me a break. This meant him getting up early, so no bringing the gifts from hidden places while everyone slept. This meant no staying up late, wrapping final gifts in my office while their mother worked in the bedroom. This meant going to bed on time and more important…
It was a weird feeling, waking up the song for the first time in decades when my father played it on the two Christmas albums. It felt weird, walking down the stairs behind my children. It felt weird, seeing my son waiting for us and passing out presents, since he and my other boys were working and able to purchase all of the gifts. It felt weird, sitting back and watching Christmas manage itself, correction, watching THEM manage it.
It felt weird. Weirdly wonderful…
As I sat through the gift exchange, the extending of gratitude and the laughter, I couldn’t help but marvel at all of the old familiar tunes he included with his new songs. Amazingly, he played a good hour’s worth of songs I usually play in my list.
At the end of the morning celebration I told him that he nailed it and that I was impressed and proud of his accomplishment. I asked him how he remembered all of the songs, all of my favorites, for Christmas day.
That’s when he capped off a perfect day with the perfect answer.
“I’ve been taking notes of your music for years, Dad.”
I managed to wait until I went upstairs to cry from happiness.
It’s Christmas, 2020…
…and the torch has officially been passed.
Merry Christmas, everybody…