Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas Past, Present and Future


My daughter's only two years old, yet she's chosen a favorite Christmas carol. She even has a particular rendition of Jingle Bells that has taken her fancy. When she hears Bing Crosby crooning that proverbial song of the season, she yells "It's Santa Claus, mama!". Then, she starts singing along with the chorus, always a beat or two behind the melody like toddlers so affectionately do.  She stops briefly to remind me that Andrew Sisters are "Mrs. Claus" collectively.

I nod enthusiastically in agreement. Who knows? Maybe, she's right! For me, the merry revelers are more like “babysitters” than the Clauses, since Claire can listen to that particular Christmas carol over and over again. In fact, I put it on repeat, and it’s kept her attention long enough to write this post. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving! And, unlike Wheels on The Bus, I haven’t gotten sick of it…yet.

Right now, I’m just fascinated watching her develop the language of the holidays. At two, Christmas is new and full of wonder. It's a gift to get to rediscover Christmas through her eyes.

Before Claire become so enamored with it, I hadn’t really paid much attention to that Bing Crosby/Andrew Sisters rendition of Jingle Bells. Really, it makes me think of music playing in the background at malls, as I pass the Salvation Army Santa and the perfume counter at Macy’s. I'm shuffling through the chaotic holiday crowd, list in hand. I'm way too busy to notice the music. But Claire's enthusiasm for the season helped me stop and take notice.


When I pulled the song up on my computer for Claire, a detail on iTunes caught my eye. The song was written in 1943. We listen to so few songs from this age -- the age of The Great War and the Greatest Generation, victory gardens, rationing, Rosie the Riveter.

I picture my grandmothers in their youth, like I've seen in old photo albums. They're in their bedrooms getting ready for the day. They turn the dial on the radio and happen upon Bing, before putting on their silk slips and hooking their stockings to their garters.

That's how I like to imagine they started their day. Really, I have no idea what 1943 was like. My grandparents' heyday was so long ago, and before all of us were even a twinkle in the eye. The idea of that time is probably filled with as much mythology as that of Santa Claus.

Yet, in 2013, Claire and I are listening to a song from generations past. My daughter will never come to know my grandparents. They fill my childhood memories of Christmas. I miss them and remember them most during the holidays.

My daughter has chosen to love a Christmas song that reminds me of my grandparents in so many ways. Her choice in song connects me to the past and the future. I recognize that traditions remain constant yet time moves forward. I'm reminded that traditions are both the legacy of those before us and are alive and changing, as we initiate our young ones into our cultural heritage.

Indeed, It's the most wonderful time of the year (my favorite Christmas song)!





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11 comments:

  1. I absolutely love this!!! :)

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  2. And you manage to make even MixTape magical. Rachel, you are so gifted. If I wasn't so busy being a blogger I would read your blog alone. And that is actually one of my favorite versions of Jingle Bells, it's just so fun and playful. I can see why Claire loves it. My mom would have been 4 when this song came out, I want to ask her if she has any memories of it now, but she was in Israel, so I am thinking maybe not. Thanks for even making me think about it.

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  3. As soon as I saw the Bing Crosby clip, I realized that we had that album when I was a kid. Brings back great memories.

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  4. Ironic how things so often come around full circle, isn't it? :-)

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  5. Rachel, I love that Claire loves a holiday song that reminds you of your grandparents. I miss mine, too and so wish that Tucker had a chance to know them. The imagery of your grandmother getting ready for the day is truly powerful.

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  6. I love your vision of the ladies getting ready back in the day. I could picture my grandmother doing the same when I read it. :)

    I love the crooners doing the holiday music. And you're right, it's probably one of the only, if not the only time, we revisit that era through song.

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  7. My youngest is 2.5 too and he is really starting to understand things. I agree it is fun watching them learn new words and enjoy the things around them.

    I am trying to teach him early about the real reason that we celebrate Christmas and that it isn't just about getting gifts. :)

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  8. Classics! It doesn't get much better than this. Their voices are Christmas.

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  9. How beautiful! I love that your daughter will have this as a memento for when she's a mom, enjoying christmas with her child. There is something so special about viewing the world as a parent.

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  10. Your little one has wonderful taste in Christmas music. She also has a mommy that writes like a dream. This is a beautiful, beautiful post!

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