Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Smooth Jazz of Christmas Past

I didn't celebrate Christmas growing up, and I'm at a point in my life where I really don't mind. 

It takes time to come to grips with things that set you on the far reaches of society (if not completely outside of them). There is jealousy, there is resentment, there is eager adoption, and then, if adoption doesn't work out -- as it hasn't really, in my case -- there is smiling amusement. You puppies are so cute. I'll be over here listening to smooth jazz, just like I did on Christmas morning growing up.

Okay, it's not quite that serious. I actually do have a deep and abiding love of Christmas, one which I discovered over several years of working in a Christmas shop at the Magic Kingdom. You can do one of two things while listening to Christmas carols and wishing people a Merry Christmas 365 days a year -- go utterly insane, or get into the groove of things. I opted for the latter. It was easier, and it was happier, and there's nothing wrong with easier or happier in my book. 

This guy. My once and future Christmas memory.
And I have at least one really special childhood Christmas memory. It just so happens that it took place two days after Christmas, when my mother and I drove down the flat stretches of I-95 to Ft. Pierce, Florida, on a chilly, gray afternoon, to a cattle ranch a few miles from the Tropicana juice factory, and I fell in love with a skinny Thoroughbred named Amarillo Elbert.

(Interestingly, my musical memory from that trip is Nights in White Satin. We listened to a cassette tape of The Moody Blues on the way. I could recite the weird poem at the end. I still can. Party trick!)

So Christmas and I don't have the strongest relationship, but we have some good times together, and a few traditions, too. Like the gorgeous trees that my husband and I have laughingly carried home from the Gowanus Home Depot, avoiding the jacked-up prices at Brooklyn's neighborhood tree lots (this year we had to bring it home on the subway. It was the nicest smelling subway car you've ever been on.) The endless supply of Mickey Mouse ornaments I have from my time in the Christmas shop. Polish chocolates from the neighborhood market in my son's Christmas stocking. 

This is a very, very small sampling of my Disney Christmas ornaments. I have a problem.

Little things, but good times.

And I suppose no one could be too surprised, after reading this, that Claiming Christmas was the first Christmas story I ever wrote. Or that, like Alex, I've always been too busy working to give Christmas too much extra thought.

But the season is there, and sooner or later, I guess, we all find ourselves with little holiday traditions. Even if we were so busy we didn't even notice they were happening. 

And smooth jazz... man, that's just always going to be a tradition for me. I spend a lot of time listening to music that's cooler than I am, but you can't escape your childhood, can you?

My Christmas story this year is Claiming Christmas. My favorite chocolate surprise at Christmas is a Happy Hippo. And, since you know you want to hear it, my favorite smooth jazz song is Behind the Waterfall.  

Which, by weird coincidence, is also played at Disney.

Merry Christmas boys and girls!

1 comment:

Alison said...

Natalie, as a totally obsessed 'picker' (not as in nose) I zeroed in on your Disney ornaments and was enthralled! So if you ever decide to get rid of them, you know who to contact.

Happy Holidays! And great writing in 2014.