(remixed from Christmases past, but the sentiments remain true)
Though it was warm enough this morning to have a window open, the forecast tonight is for cold and the central heat is keeping the chill of the outside world at bay with a steady, soothing hum.
The only light radiating – other than that from the television’s glow – is from the lights of the Christmas tree which Paloma has trimmed with care.
(and, astoundingly, Ravi has not attempted to scale…yet)
On the television screen is Bedford Falls.
I didn’t grow up with viewings of It’s A Wonderful Life, which is odd I suppose as I was a kid in the ’70s.
It was during that decade that the copyright on the film lapsed and the movie was being aired repeatedly during the holiday season on independent television stations.
Suddenly, it had become a beloved, Christmas staple.
Somehow, I didn’t watch It’s A Wonderful Life until I was in my early twenties and rented it from the video store next to the record store where I worked.
I had two days off, I was broke, and I wanted to veg. There was It’s A Wonderful Life. I shrugged and figured I was due.
It was the middle of July.
Now, an annual viewing, seasonally adjusted, is a bit of a tradition. So, I’m stretched out on the couch and watching as the plans of Jimmy Stewart get laid to waste one by one – no travel, no college, no life in the dirty city.
(and, as I think about it, I’ve been fortunate to do all of those things he’d set out to do)
Paloma was up very early this morning, so she’s not watching. She’d likely have passed anyhow as she finds the flick to be depressing.
(it is a bit of a grim slog to Jimmy Stewart’s epiphany)
A lot of folks watching tonight likely identify with the struggles of the working class citizens of Bedford Falls.
There is a dreary rain falling outside and gusts of wind. I can feel by touching the window that the temperature is dropping.
My eyes kept catching snatches of items about the living room in the firefly flickers from the black and white images on the screen.
Bob Marley is smiling from some odd print that has him juxtaposed against stars and stripes. Godzilla battles the Smog Monster on a framed Japanese poster – a very nifty gift from Paloma.
There’s some of Paloma’s artwork on the wall as well as a cattle skull painted metallic silver, a British Union Jack and a Singaporean flag, a subway poster for The Boomtown Rats’ In The Long Grass, a clock with The Verve’s Richard Ashcroft’s face, and numerous other unusual artifacts.
There are a thousand or so CDs we’ve kept on one wall; a thousand or so vinyl albums filed against another wall.
We have creature comforts.
Ravi is asleep on a large chair, curled into a small ball of black fur and Ju Ju sits on the back of the couch staring out the window behind me.
Pizza is most certainly curled up with Paloma, sleeping in the next room.
We have a home.
It’s peaceful, it’s comforting, and, to have what we have, it is quite wonderful.
Here are four modern songs of the season that I must hear each Christmas…
Wendy & Lisa with Seal – The Closing Of The Year
from Just Say Noël (1996)
“If I cannot bring you comfort
Then at least I bring you hope
For nothing is more precious
Than the time we have and so
We all must learn from small misfortune
Count the blessings that are real
Let the bells ring out for Christmas
At the closing of the year”
The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale Of New York
from If I Should Fall From Grace With God (1988)
Gritty and gorgeous, poignant and profane – I’m not sure how it is possible to resist the charms of Fairytale Of New York.
Band Aid – Do The Know It’s Christmas? (12″ version)
from Do The Know It’s Christmas? single (1984)
Band Aid’s charity single from 1984 has been pretty maligned and, granted, it might not be a stellar musical effort, but, if you were a young music fan at the time, it had a certain charm that it likely retains to this day. It featured some of the superstar acts of the early MTV era and it was one of the first musical events I had lived through.
And, if you were a kid at the time, it very well was one of the first times you realized that as big as the world might be, it was one world. And, maybe it made you stop and think that there are a lot of people in the world who might not have the simplest things which we take for granted, not just at Christmas, but each and every day.
At least it did for me.
The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping
from I Could Rule The World If I Could Only Get The Parts (1982)
The Waitresses only released one full-length album and an EP of their quirky, New Wave rock. But, despite their scant output, the group notched two, enduring classics – the sassy I Know What Boys Like and their modern holiday classic Christmas Wrapping.
I first heard the song on 97X during Christmas ’83 as I was discovering modern rock and it was immediately memorable.
Years later, I’d much better relate to the story within the song, and, somehow, despite how many times I’ve heard it, the ending is still a surprise that makes me smile.