Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Joy For All

Jazz. Every time I hear a hi-hat or an upright bass, my stomach does flip flops. Sometimes I even well up and get a little misty. For the longest time I couldn't for the life of me figure out why I had these types of visceral reactions to this music. I never listened to jazz as a kid. In fact, it wasn't until about 5 years ago that I even bought my first record by Sonny Rollins. Back in Philly, about three years ago, Dr. SOB and I were out at a little dive listening to listen to a set and he finally figured out the root of my feelings.

Charlie Brown.

More specifically, Vince Guaraldi's score to the Charlie Brown Christmas special.

In my family, the Charlie Brown Christmas special was the official beginning to the holiday season. The day it was broadcast, we would rush home from school and start putting up decorations. Then at eight o'clock, we would tune in to ABC. I would usually sit next to my dad and my little brother would sit with my mom. As soon as I would hear the first chords from 'Christmas Time Is Here' my eyes would widen and my heart would flutter. I knew the Santa was just around the corner and the next few weeks would be filled with cookies, family, and unbridled excitement.

I never knew growing up that we were at an economic disadvantage. In other words, we was poor. My father is a union steel worker, and at that time was low on the totem pole. Unfortunately, that meant that every time there were layoffs, he was one of the first ones out of work. Despite steady lapses in our steady income, my mom and dad worked tirelessly to make my brother and me blissfully unaware. This was never more true than at Christmas time. My folks would scrimp and save all year so that come Christmas, we would have oodles of presents under our tree. My mom would even go as far as to wrap things individually so that instead of one present of six pairs of socks, we had six presents of one pair of socks. We always got that one big present that we were hoping for. Drum set, bikes, cabbage patch kids, you name it. I think, though, what made it so special was watching my parents' faces and seeing how happy they were. We were little, and we still thought Santa had brought us these fabulous things. We had no idea what they sacrificed to make these things possible.

As I grew up, I started to see things a little more clearly. I realized what my parents been doing, and it only made me enjoy Christmas even more.

These days, we are separated by a great deal of geography. My brother is in Florida, I am in Atlanta and my folks are still in Pennsylvania. Usually, just after Thanksgiving, I'll get a call from one of them informing me when the Charlie Brown Christmas special is going to air. Whenever possible, my brother and I will spend that half an hour on the phone together, not speaking, just watching together, sharing.

This is what I want to share with Sam.

I wanted to do this yesterday, but the lad and I are both recovering from tiny little colds and we slept most of the day away. Thanks to the Lovely Mrs. Davis.

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Mrs. Davis said...

I love the Christmas specials, and Charlie Brown is one of my faves. How cool that you and your brother watch it together over the phone!

Amy Jo said...

Thanks! It's something we've only started doing in the last few years, but now we wouldn't miss it for anything. Thanks for such a lovely idea!uxlqlw

Susan said...

What a neat tradition! And I love that your parents were able to keep the magic and wonderment of Christmas alive for you, despite any hardships they might have been facing at the time. The quiet joy that you and your brother continue to share... so peaceful, so pure, so simple. Wow.

Amy Jo said...

My brother and I don't have too many things we 'do' together, so I'm really glad we've both tried to keep this one alive.

P.S. Did you notice the weird string of letters at the end of my earlier comment? That was my word verification sequence. I really should pay more attention to editing, huh?

super des said...

That's a sweet story and it makes me happy.

Amy Jo said...

Thanks Super Des!