Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rudolph, "and Other Christmas Favorites"

This month I listened to albums that haven’t been played in over 25 years. Yes, albums – records – that are scratchy and old and skip a word now and then. I had forgotten how a record player works – gently lowering the needle onto the record, hearing the satisfying scratch that indicates when the last song is over, watching as the arm rises up, then over the record, and over to rest on the armrest with a thump. When I was a kid I would stack more than one record on top, and they would plop down one at a time, the 70’s equivalent of a multi-disc CD player.

The record I’m enjoying this week is “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and it fills me with the feeling of being a kid in cold and snowy rural Southern Indiana at Christmas, when the air was thick with the excited anticipation of the holidays. The songs were old even back then, recorded in the old-fashioned style of 1950’s singers and choirs. Jimmy Durante sings and narrates the title song, making jokes while having a conversation with Santa. A Lawrence Welk-sounding woman sings “When Santa Claus Gets Your Letter,” and each reindeer introduces himself in “We are the Reindeer who work for Santa Claus.” Even though it has been 30 years, I still remember all the words.

I couldn’t yet read when I first listened to this record, because Mom drew little pictures in ballpoint pen on each side of the record: a little reindeer to show me where to find Jimmy Durante, little bells for Jingle Bells, and a Santa for “I Dreamed that I was Santa Claus.” I must say it was nice for her to let me use the record player at that age.

Nothing brings back the simple warm feeling of Christmas as much as these songs. When I hear other people say they can’t “get into” the season this year, I realize how lucky I am to be able to bring back that feeling so easily. (And how lucky I am to have such warm fuzzy memories to look back on.) Singing together at the piano. Shopping for just the right tree out in the cold grocery parking lot. Cookies in the oven. Making gingerbread houses. Making a gift list. Feeding the birds. Sending Christmas cards. Watching Rudolph and Charlie Brown on TV. Reading to the light of the bright Christmas tree. Wrapping presents. Playing in the snow. Wearing dresses and red tights. Gathering with family, together in a more special way than normal. Feeling part of the bigger picture, knowing kids all over the world were waiting for Santa at just the same time, just like I was.

The feel of all that, captured for me in one album. Not bad.

No comments:

Post a Comment