MAKING MEMORIES

When I look back on Christmases past, mainly those of my youth, I can’t help but burst into a big grin.

I was an only child with two loving parents (sure I was spoiled but I wasn’t a spoiled brat), and for me, Christmas was a wonderful, exciting and memorable time. My Dad would take me Christmas shopping for my Mom and grandparents a week or two before, and we’d hit the same spots each year on our shopping trek – Lord and Taylor, Bob’s Sports, The Gallery Shop (where Mom modeled clothes for years) – and maybe even go out to lunch together, a big treat for a kid. It was just him and I, the man I loved most in the world, reveling in each other’s company amidst the glowing Connecticut Christmastime.

Christmas Eve would be a present wrapping fest, with mom and dad in their room and me up in mine, all of us wrapping and taping and writing the little cards, usually with a tiny hint as to what was inside. Then we’d each open one present after dinner, and sit by the roaring fire in eager anticipation of the next morning’s discoveries. I’d go to bed, let the visions of sugar plums dance away, and awaken to a veritable plethora (God I love using that term, it was always one of Dad’s favorites) of brightly wrapped presents so plentiful you could barely get through the living room. We’d tear through the first tier of gifts while eating some Entenmann’s coffee cake, and then open a few more before my grandparents arrived from upstate, carrying their own sleigh full of presents. Yep, it was a kid’s Christmas dream, and those memories are still fresh and full, and I relish every one of them.

Many many years have come and gone since then, and my parents and grandparents are gone, so it’s the memories I cherish that enable me to go back to that special time. I will also open a photo album or two in the next week and all the Christmas memories will come flooding back. But there’s another constant that makes those times resound in my mind the most: the music. Back then, particular Christmas albums by the Harry Simeone Chorale, Harry Belafonte and others would spin away on the turntable and fill our barn with beautiful sounds of the season, and my mom, dad and I would unabashedly sing along. When I hear the same versions of those songs these days, I am right back there.

Another oh-so-special sound of Christmas seasons past is that one-of-a-kind collection of  classical holiday masterpieces, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. My parents would put on the album, I can’t remember what conductor it was but it was the classic Tchaikovsky version, and we’d fall into the land of the dreams of a little girl and the fanciful world she conjured up in her Christmas Eve mind. The little mice first, then the sugar plum fairies, toy soldiers, and on and on. With the fire crackling away, my mom dancing around the room just like those fairies, my Dad looking at her with all the love a man could conjure, the world completely revolved around us and the warmth and peace and comfort of that house, with that sweet Nutcracker music being the centerpiece.

A couple of weeks ago, another lasting lifelong Christmas memory was made. But hopefully it wasn’t a memory just for me. Hopefully it was one freshly made for my sweet daughter Kelly Lynn. And it had those same sweet strains of The Nutcracker soaring all around it.

I took Kelly to see The Nutcracker at The Warner Theater, the first real top notch version of this classic ballet that either of us had ever seen. A friend gave me two tickets and Mimi said “Why don’t you take Kelly?” It was one of the best suggestions she’s ever made. I drove downtown and parked, then stopped at The Blue Point right next to the theater for a quick drink and a bite. In honor of my folks, I had their favorite drink: a martini, along with a cup of delicious seafood gumbo. Feeling fully satisfied and excited for this “date” with my little girl, I waited anxiously out front for Mimi to pull up, and when they did, Kelly’s ear to ear smile as she stepped out and took my arm said it all. We skipped down the sidewalk and right into the land of Clara, Fritz, their parents and the magical world that she created within her dreams.

But it wasn’t because of the sets, the dancing, the costumes, or the beautiful production of this classic holiday tale that made the tears roll down my face halfway through thinking of Mom, and the flood of memories from the barn in Wilton that would fill my mind. It was the music.  The music as the fairies danced, as the soldiers marched, as the Mouse King pranced, or as Clara and her prince sailed through the clouds of her dream. It was the music that took me back to our little Connecticut barn, and a time with little complication or worry.

And it was the music that I hope Kelly will most remember, hearing it in her mind for years to come, as she remembers the moment when she was 8, with her dad’s arm around her, as we sat under the golden ceiling of the Warner, and fell full fledge into Clara’s magical dream. I will never forget last night, and I hope Kelly won’t either.

So, may all of you find happiness in remembering your most treasured memories of Christmas this season. And as you remember the days gone by, may you also make many special new memories for you, and those you love. For it is those memories that keep the magic of your life sparkling forever. Happy holidays.

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7 Responses to “MAKING MEMORIES”

  1. Nice thoughts, Steve. Sounds like a beautiful night and one that I know you’ll treasure for a long time. Your Mom & Dad are looking down with a big smile also, I’m sure. Merry Xmas to you, Mimi, Ben and Kelly.

  2. What wonderful Christmas memories you have! As a child I celebrated with my grandparents and cousins at Grandma Lisa’s house. The food, smells of bulla (pulla) a Swedish coffee bread, and of course, digging through the gifts under Grandma’s tree.There were eight of us kids all eager to tear off the wrappings of our gifts. Today I am a grandmother– hard to believe at times- but I get to relive the excitement again through the eyes of my grand kids. Have a Merry Christmas. Thanks for shairing.

    • midliferocker Says:

      What a nice message, Cindi. So glad you read this at this time of year. How did you find the blog? I hope you will read more of the entries, they could conjure up even more memories.

      Thanks.
      Steve

  3. I am a blogger myself, and I was reading random blogs that I came across. Please check out mine.http://cindimp.wordpress.com

    • midliferocker Says:

      Just read your last entry, love the story idea. Wow. What a great way to keep Christmas memories and your legacy alive! Your kids and grandkids are lucky to have you.

      Happy holidays, Cindi.

      Steve

  4. Happy holidays to you and yours, Steve. Are you into the blues? Love them!

    Cindi

    • midliferocker Says:

      Yes. Big fan. Check out my interviews with Buddy Guy and John Mayall, they are on midliferocker too.

      Best,
      Steve

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