Saints We Love

Monday, December 12, 2011

Just in Time for Christmas - All Those Christmas Cliches

“Just In Time For Christmas”

Every Christmas 
Was special at our Home because of  
Tom Fenwick
Who read the Christmas Story from this book every year. 
Terry Fenwick

My precious friend in Canada, Mark Blackburn, who is also a favorite writer, posted this today.  It seemed like a good beginning to a family Christmas.  I loved Mark's father and was so pleased that George Blackburn made a promise to make "Every Christmas special."  That might be something we all should do.  
Mark Blackburn 
Thinking of Nancy Lamott this day (16 Decembers after her early death from cancer) I was recalling obscure seasonal songs she recorded – which I’ve not heard performed by other artists: I went in search just now for her “Just In Time for Christmas” and found another song (I love even more) from Nancy’s only Christmas album -- arranged (I believe) by Peter Matz and her auspiciously-named pianist, Christopher Marlowe (one of the best piano accompanists I’ve ever heard). I found my favorite ALL THOSE CHRISTMAS CLICHES has been set (when I wasn’t looking) to a ‘slide show’ so evocative it made me weep. If you promise not to laugh, I’ll share it with you. First a question . . .

Was Christmas a big deal in your house when you were little? Can you recall a 'best-ever' childhood gift? My own Dad made a vow to himself when he was little – that he would “make EVERY Christmas special” if he had children of his own. When he was young, his father was an alcoholic who might “disappear this time of year, on two-week ‘bender’.” His Mom was left to fend for herself and the three children.

My father surprised me the most (“blew me away” as we used to say) with gifts on consecutive Christmases when I was a teenager: There was a home-made pool table that he’d somehow managed to keep hidden during its construction in our basement (beneath strategically-located blankets). The Christmas after that when I was 18, there was a Fender “Tremolux” cream-colored 'tube' amp (1958) waiting for me under the tree. (Today they ‘E-bay’ for 5 thousand dollars; Dad bought mine ‘used,’ for 150.)

But my all-time favorite gift – the one with the most impact -- came when I was only three or four: my Dad made me a “steam shovel” (much like one in a famous children’s book of the time: that one was called “Mike” (I think) and it was red. Mine was painted shiny bright yellow – lovingly crafted of metal and wood – its ‘heart’ a noisy, clicking electric generator. A push-start from a little finger would get the rotor’s bright copper threads, clicking away and generating electricity. It was huge (to my little eyes) and looked so much like a real steam shovel! I was the envy of visiting adults that Christmas day.

My Mom believed in “slow-roasting the bird” (12 hours) beginning ‘the night before,’ (didn’t everyone?) so we awoke Christmas day with that fatty fragrance in our nostrils; turkey smell went well (we thought) with the aroma of freshly-peeled, big navel oranges left atop the big bowls of nuts that Santa always brought. 

Okay then. See if this brings back any vivid memories. 

1 comment:

Terry Fenwick said...

Mark is Mark Blackburn. If you want to comment to him about his note, please write