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This Day in My History


The merry family gatherings--The old, the very young; the strangely lovely way they harmonize in carols sung. For Christmas is tradition time-- traditions that recall the precious memories down the years, the sameness of them all.

--Helen Lowrie Marshall

Yesterday's Entries

2000:  The Dreaded Christmas Letter
2001:  The Free Ride's Over
2002:  Typhoid Mary


Breakfast:  toast with home made apricot jam

Lunch:  pineapple chicken quesadilla

Dinner:  We're having dinner with friends


Still working on "Angels and Demons," another thriller by Dan Brown (of "DaVinci Code" fame). 


Does typing count?


Sunny and rather nice today.



17 December 2003

You can’t go anywhere this week without hearing Bing Crosby. For a crooner who recorded as many songs as he did, it’s amazing that Crosby's legacy for all eternity is destined to be Christmas songs. No matter where you are, if you stay longer than 10 minutes, you are certain to hear the familiar strains of "White Christmas" sooner or later.

It doesn’t surprise me. Bing was always on at my house, when I was growing up, as we decorated the Christmas tree. It just wasn’t Christmas without Bing and a glass of egg nog...and my mother up on a chair arranging the lights around the tree (that was her specialty—one I have not embraced myself, I might add).

When I had children of my own and we began our own Christmas tree decorating traditions, once again, it was to the strains of Bing Crosby... "White Christmas," "Jingle Bells," "Mele Kalikimaka." Bing and the Andrews Sisters. Could it be Christmas without them?

Oh we have other Christmas music in the house--very religious to very secular....four John Denvers, for example, and everything from Joan Sutherland to "a Classic Cartoon Christmas."

And could it possibly be Christmas without "The Santa Rumba" or Lawsuit's recorded Christmas song, "The Grassy Noel"?

I wonder how Christmas caroling got to be tradition with this holiday. We certainly don’t go door to door singing Halloween tunes or Valentine serenades or Easter ditties. But everyone’s a singer at Christmas.

Convalescent Hospitals and rest homes whose halls may be vacant for most of the year have to schedule caroling groups because they get so many requests. Last year I went with a group to sing at a couple of rest homes and they had two groups of us–dueling carolers, as it were. The staff sent one group down one hall and the other group down the same hall in the opposite direction. When our echoes crossed paths around the TV room, it was Caroling Cacaphony (especially embarrassing for our group, since the other choir was so much better than we were!).

The old folks love it, though–-and often someone who stares vacantly into space for most of the year can be brought momentarily into reality by the sound of a familiar Christmas tune sung by an earnest, if not entirely on-tune choir.

We have gone out caroling in the streets with theatre groups. That’s always so much fun because the professional singers mix with the untrained back-up crews and we always sound so much better hanging on the coattails of someone who knows his or her way around a 16th note.

In our early years here in Davis, we would go out with the Davis Comic Opera Company, juggling candles and sheets of music. We would walk up and down a few streets, stopping at houses to serenade the residents, just like they used to do in the olden days. We never got invited in for hot cider and warm cookies, but sometimes they opened the door and looked interested in our efforts.

The Lamplighters also used to go caroling and that was definitely a high-class way to travel. We would cram all of us onto a cable car and sing while the car went from one end of the line to the other. Lots of Lamplighter performers went on to professional singing careers, so this really sounded pretty damn good, even if you could only croak out an approximation of the note yourself. The ride ended near Fisherman's Wharf, at the Buena Vista, the club that gave the world Irish coffee, and we would all go inside and get one or two or three Irish coffees for the road (in the days when we were young and foolish and didn’t think about what a raised blood alcohol level might do to that long drive home afterwards.)

I don’t quite get the same warm, nostalgic feeling about Christmas carols these days as I did in the past. And some of the more modern carols, jazzed up or rock versions of old standards, definitely don’t do anything for me.

But as sick as I am of hearing Crosby doing "White Christmas" yet again, I have to admit that for one brief moment, I really hope that the world can some day become calm and bright and that we can all sleep in heavenly peace.



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Created 12/17/03