Home Featured The Music and Memories That Make This Time Of Year Special

The Music and Memories That Make This Time Of Year Special

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And This Chistmas ... Will Be ...

Without a doubt, my favorite time of the year, the most wonderful time of the year, the time of year I look forward to more than any other is Christmas time. What’s not to love about this time of year. Most of the major religions of the world have major holidays around this time, we have Kwanza and even the Atheists and Agnostics have Festivus. As a Christian, this time of year is special because it’s the time that we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ (even though he probably wasn’t really born on December 25th). But besides all that stuff, I’ve always loved this time of year because it’s about family. Today on SBM I want us all to go on a journey down memory lane and look back at some of our favorite holiday season memories – accompanied of course by some of our favorite holiday music. Here are a few of my most memorable Christmases and a few of my favorite Christmas songs.

Christmas 1986 – Candyland, My Mom, and My Brother

1987 was kind of a rough year for the Spradley family. All sorts of family turmoil made for sweeping changes in our family structure – this made 1986 one of the best Christmases I ever had when looking back on it. I was 3 & ½ years old, my older brother was just about five and it was our last Christmas together. We woke up early, ran down stairs and slid into the tree as was our tradition to that point. The gifts from my mom, grandmother and father were bountiful- it’s the first Christmas I remember where I really understood what was going on, what the holiday was about. Key gifts that year were the board-games Candyland and Shoots and Ladders. I remember we barely got through opening the rest of the gifts we were so geeked to play those two games.

When I think of a song that captures this memory, I have to go with N’Sync’s “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays”. I know N’Sync was super-cheesy, and I know they’re a boy band, but the carefree spirit of the song and the upbeat tempo remind me of a time when I had no cares in the world. All I wanted to do was run downstairs, slide into a tree with my brother and see what Santa had in store for us on Christmas morning.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZCWQ6LBbww

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Christmas 1993 – Nike Diamond Turf and Canasta

As I mentioned in last week’s post on Christmas gifts, as a child, I could never bring myself to ask for expensive stuff for Christmas. It just didn’t seem right. But while I could consciously understand the absurdness of buying $100.00 sneakers for a child who’s feet are growing faster than Pinocchio’s nose, it didn’t make me not want them. Christmas morning 1993, first box I open I find a pair of Nike Diamond Turf’s – also known as the “Dions”. What made this gift special wasn’t that they were Nike or that they were expensive, it was that my grandmother and aunt went out of their way to get them for me because they knew I would never ask for them. That act of kindness and thoughtfulness has shaped how I approach shopping for the people I love on Christmas.

93′ was also a special year because my grand mother, my aunt, and my great aunts finally taught me how to play Canasta. Canasta is a card game played almost exclusively by old women. It’s long as hell (first person to 4000 points wins), and my family used to play it all day long on holidays. Learning to play Canasta and being invited to sit at the Canasta table was a rite of passage of sorts for me. It marked my ascendence into adulthood. It also gave me the opportunity to spend time with and get to know my 70 and 80 year old aunts who ended up playing a huge roll in shaping me into the man I am today.

The song that I think of when I think about Christmas 1993 is Bob Seger’s version of “Little Drummer Boy”. This is one of my all time favorite songs because it captures the spirit of the season. It captures this idea that it’s not about how much money you have or what your gift is, it’s about everybody doing what they can to make someone else feel special. The little drummer boy didn’t have any money – so he played his drum for the king. Even the Ox and Lamb did their part- playing along– keeping time. This was how Christmas was for us that year, we weren’t broke, we weren’t rich, we just did the best we could to be together as a family and make each other feel loved.

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httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S50cf3xIb50

Christmas 2008 – First Christmas In Our Current Home

During the 2008 holiday season, MrsMost and I were in the middle of major renovations at the crib. The prior two years we’d spent Christmas at my in-laws’ house because we just didn’t have the space to host. So, while the renovations weren’t quite complete by the time Christmas rolled around (even though they were supposed to be done by Thanksgiving) we still bought a tree and made it work. It was the first time we had Christmas in our home and it was wonderful. Sometimes life makes it impossible for you to continue with certain traditions or celebrate certain holidays the way you did when you were a child. When that happens you can either give up on the holiday, or you can start new traditions. Christmas 2008 allowed me to start a new tradition with a family of my own – one I have continued and look forward to continuing for many years to come.

When I think of Christmas 2008 I think of Mariah’s classic “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. I can still picture MrsMost and I playing this as we decorated our first Christmas tree together, shutting off the lights once finished to look at our handy work. This song is a great reminder that while gifts and huge meals and all the other stuff we do to celebrate are great, all we really need for Christmas are the people who are most important to us. It was Christmas 2008, more than any other, that reminded me of the fact that MrsMost really was – and is – all I want for Christmas – as sappy and un-Most-like as that sounds.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxO1iGGw8t4

Christmas 2004 – Grandma.

I lost my grandmother on July 4th, 2004. Losing my grandmother for me was huge because she was, in many ways, my mother. But with a house to take care of, a full-time job, and a full class schedule at Hofstra University, I kept myself busy enough that it didn’t really hit me. The holiday season rolled around and I was good. I put up a Christmas tree like grandma and I always had, and invited MrsMost and her family over for a Christmas Eve dinner (she wasn’t yet MrsMost at this point). I cooked all day, they came by in the evening, ate, played games, exchanged gifts and had a really great night. Then they all went home. Midnight passed, Christmas Eve turned into Christmas morning and all of a sudden it hit me. I was all alone. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have my grandmother on Christmas. The full weight of all of the emotion I’d bottled up since the funeral, all through the summer and all through the school semester came crashing down and I really didn’t know what to do. I cried. I cried in a way I can’t really remember crying before or since. I cried till I went to sleep that night and when I woke up in the morning I cried a little more. I can’t remember a time I ever felt less in control of myself. But as much as it hurt, it was also beautiful, it was my chance to reflect on just how special my grandmother was, how deeply connected we were, and how unconditionally she loved me and I loved her. Christmas 2004 I mourned – and in mourning my grandmoms – I again remembered why this time of year is worthwhile and important.

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The song I think of when I think of Christmas 2004 is my favorite Christmas song of all: Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas.” It was one of my grandmother’s favorites; it reminds me of those I’ve lost- that they live on through the memories we made on December 25ths past. And it reminds me of those I’ve found and the memories we’ll make on December 25ths to come.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pj1mVUEHeUE

I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but get a little nostalgic around this time of year. Just writing this post brought up a myriad of memories I hadn’t touched in ages. This time of year also makes me hopeful. I look out into the future and see myself making Christmas magical for some little kid who happens to be mine and who I happen to love – the same way those who loved me made my Christmases magical. Take this trip down memory lane with me. Share your favorite Christmas songs and memories. Tis the season… let’s get in the spirit folks.

We are now taking RSVPs for this Friday’s NYC Holiday Happy Hour at The Empire Room in the Empire State Building.  It’ll be from 6pm til 10pm! RSVP and stay up to date on future SBM events via the link here: http://eepurl.com/hUUcU

 

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Comment(54)

  1. *daps up Ghost of Christmas past*

    One of the favorite Christmas songs is Shanice and Gerald Alston-Christmas Presence http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHr4aHcLR9U (probably because i’ve grown tired of every other Christmas song). As i look back some of my favorite Christmases were 2007, i came home for the first time from college and was able to purchase gifts for everyone. 2008, one i would learn to appreciate in hindsight as it was the last one with my mother. And hopefully this one where i’ll be hosting for the first time and actually finished shopping a week ago

    1. Good luck with your hosting this year fam. It's a big task, but once it's all said and done you can't help but feel good about yourself for having everyone over and being the medium through with family connects.

      What's on the menu this year though? You cooking?

      I'm still deciding between a Leg of Lamb or a Turkey. And then between a Virgina Ham or a Whole Chicken.

  2. Excellent Post!

    My favorite Christmas song is “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole. This song puts me in a great mood. Makes me reflect on great memories with Family over the years and looking forward to starting new traditions with a family of my own.

    1. The Christmas Song is classic.

      That's like the post Christmas, just finished cleaning up and washing all the dishes down, zone out and wrap the evening up joint…

    2. *daps*

      Exactly. Listening to this in the car with Mama Cheeks MAKES Christmas for me. I've always loved that song ever since I was a mini Cheeks. It's easily my favorite Christmas song of all Kanye West time. And YES it has to be Nat King Cole. It's the law.

    3. Definitely the "Christmas Song" by Nat King Cole and "This Christmas" by Donny Hathaway are my two official "it's Christmas time" songs.

      The second tier for me are Boyz II Men's "Let it Snow" and "Silent Night", Toni Braxton's "Holiday Celebrate" and "Christmas Time is Here" (she killed this song, this should probably first tier with the other two), Johnny Gill's "Give Love on Christmas Day", and Run DMC's Christmas in Hollis.

  3. This was an awesome post. What a wonderful tribute to Christmas and family.

    I don’t remember much about Christmas when I was young. Like you I was a child of divorce. I do remember that my parents did spoil my brother and I with lots of gifts, and I would imagine our reaction to be something like this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCal25PxcVw&fe

    I was a simple gal.. My mom telling me that I would rather read a book than play Barbie. Lol

    However it was the Christmases spent with just my mom, brother and I that I remember the most. My mom would always try her best to make it special, with the largest real tree could afford on a budget.. And my brother and I would compete to see who could get mom or each other the best gift, down to the last dollar! Lol It was just the three of us being together though that made it special.

    Thanks for this post!

    1. Thanks Tonya… appreciate you sharing your memories.

      I'm actually very particular on Christmas tree shopping. I always want a Big tree and I always want one that falls out nicely. The shape is key.

      In your competition with your brother who has the best gift of all time?

      1. I always felt that my brother won. He might have felt the same about me. Of course it was difficult to judge, the fun was just trying to do our best to make each other happy. (..well to be honest..my brother and I were super competitive..LOL)

  4. Very Nice. How great of you to share something so raw about yourself. Having lost my Grandma in June of ’03 I think I haven’t grieved properly. I was pregnant with my 3rd child and I had already just partially recovered from grieving as I had to bury a child in ’00. I was looking forward to my Grandma or Momma as I would sometimes call her, to being their to watch another GreatGrand cry, babble, waddle, and eventually walk. Being that I had so much trouble with my first pregnancy with the twins my family didn’t want to tell me that she passed. They actually waited til I got home from work and broke it to me easy as I was 8 months and already cautioned for bed rest due to blood pressure and gestational diabetes. I guess the overwhelming urge to compose myself so that I didn’t go into to preterm labor kept me relatively sane. But, that Christmas, I completely lost myself. I didn’t want to put up a tree, I couldn’t pull it together to step across Momma’s threshold without help from my then 4 year old pushing me in. And I had tears in my eyes. See up until that year I had spent every Christmas that I could remember at my Grandma’s House! And this was the first time I wouldn’t hear her saying “Fuzzy get in here and give me some suga”. Which had affectinately changed to “Fuzzy get in here with that baby and giv me some suga!” Lol. I wouldn’t hear her singing Mahalia Jackson “Silent Night” as we cleaned some chitterlings (gross… but good eats) anymore. It really hit me hard that christmas, I cried and laughed, and cried some more and laughed again. I like to tell myself it was her that would be tickling my ear with some jokes, just to let me know that she was still here in the memories that I had. Like as a child waking up and going into her room cause I had another bad dream about Madame from “Solid Gold”, or the Marshmallow Man (Pillsbury Doughboy) from Ghostbusters. All the way up to her praying with me and apologizing that she was too sick to come to my sons funeral. She was my life line I had a praying Grandmother! And she was always teaching me to put God First,to ” let him” carry me, and reminding me that God doesn’t put more on me than I could bear! I will be playing some Mahalia this christmas. Thinking of her and thanking her. Thanks for sharing once again.

  5. Great post….it’s funny that as I was reading the post some of the songs that popped in my head were ones that reminded you of each memory.

  6. Christmases 2002, 2004 and 2005 were great. 2002 was our first Christmas in our first apartment together. I was so excited the tree was up before Halloween. Our tradition to leave the tree up til Valentine's Day was born that year because we were so busy that we didn't get around to it til then. 2004 was the year we got married and bought our first house. I bought so much [email protected] for him it was ridiculous. 2005 my son was newly born and had projectile diarrhea on my hubs. We reflect on that every year. Good times! Nice post Most!

    1. "2005 my son was newly born and had projectile diarrhea on my hubs."

      LOL! My oldest son got his Dad too. Right on the leg and then the dresser when he jumped out of the way. Gross is an understatement, LOL…

      1. Awww man! That is gross and so hilarious isn't it?! At least he jumped out of the way. My hubs couldn't. It was all over his shirt. We'd brought extra shirts because we expected spit up not this. NOT THIS! He tells my son every year and he never believes him.

    2. Wait… projectile diarrhea? I didn't even know that existed. The thing I'm least excited for when it comes to kids is changing diapers. I've changed one diaper my whole life and it was like… wet not mushy if you catch my drift.

      What are your plans for Christmas this year?

      1. I said projectile because I could not come up with a better discription for it. It could've been in a horror movie man. Dude, they poop a lot in the beginning so you'll get good at changing diapers reeeeally quickly.

        We don't really have anything planned this Christmas. Just have the kids open gifts, take some pics, and eat. We might go to a friend's house but I doubt it.

        What about you?

      2. Oh I forgot to mention that yesterday we celebrated an offical eleven years together. Not marriage, just togetherness. I feel old!

      3. projectile diarrhea…projectile vomit, LOL! Pooping in the tub…or through every layer of clothing they have on seeping into the carseat cushion or bedspread, LOL…

        You and Mrs. Most are gonna be in for a real treat! Good times, man…good times…

        *evil grin*

        1. the most fun is when the doc checks your baby boy’s wee wee… He / she opens up the diaper and get sprayed. LMAO!!!

  7. Although its very good, something about this post made me sad. Honestly, I can't remember the last really great Christmas I had. Or, maybe I don't really want to remember. And maybe that's why I'm so "whateverish" when it comes to Christmas these days. Its just really lost its significance in my life. *shrugs*

    All the visiting and traveling I do for Christmas is now for my children. Christmas is the BEST to them. And I won't rob them of that.

    1. I know what you mean. I don't have a lot of fond memories of Christmas, not a lot of bad ones either. I just feel neutral about it I guess but I definitely try to make it something great for the kids. One day, we'll be around family for the holidays though and that'll be something special for them. Last year, my hubs's mom had surgery a few weeks before the holiday so we went down there for that. Because we couldn't stay for the holiday his dad made a big Christmas dinner for us while we were down there. That was so sweet. And because they missed our birthdays, he made us each our own cakes too.

  8. Awesome post – I love Christmas because my mom loves it – she goes above and beyond every year so me and my sisters make sure we do all we can for her.

    My favorite Christmas song "O Holy Night"

    1. I love that song too. I like Jessica Simpson and Christina Aguilera's versions. My other favorite "Oh Come All Ye Faithful," Luther's version. And Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby."

      1. Hah! No really I love Christmas just not the music. I will definitely be watching the classics… It’s a wonderful life, Miracle on 34th street and of course A Christmas Story.

        I can remember a kid actually trying to lick a metal pole to see if their tongue would get stuck…. It did!!!

        1. Was that kid you Kema? lol I remember somebody daring me to do it but I was a punk.
          I think maybe I'm a Scrooge because I am so over Christmas movies. My hubs always insists on watching Charlie Brown though and his favorite movie of all time is A Christmas Story. I should put that in his stocking since we don't have TBS to watch it.

        2. Nah it wasn’t me… I was a teenager at the time and it was my lil sister’s friend.
          You gotta watch the movies for the kids!!!

    1. Oh!!! I just remembered there is one Christmas song I like…

      "It's Christmas time in Hollis Queens
      Mom's cooking chicken and collard greens
      Rice and stuffing, macaroni and cheese"

      I’m from Hollis so its mandatory. lol!

  9. *singing* I’m dreaming of a Blaaaack Christmas…
    🙂

    I LOVE Christmas time– always have. I make an entire spectacle out of the holiday season which is all of November and all of December. I always host a holiday gathering and in 2005 I gave birth to my son on December 29th so the time of year became even more special. Between my love for this time and his birthday, things can get out of control; with shenanigans like impromptu shopping sprees and an abundance of family outings during December. On top of that I make it extra special by dressing up–for what seems like no reason at all.

    I have nothing but great memories from Christmas as a child, I’m starting new traditions and incorporating some of the old. I also celebrate Kwanzaa… and host a Kwanzaa workshop/gathering every year.

    Ella Fitzgerald’s “Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas” is my favorite holiday album and is on repeat at work and home during holiday time.
    My fav’s are “Christmas Island” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWI-EoTfu20

    Great post!

  10. I love Christmas! So very much…and I'm living with Mr "Bah Humbug". Seriously he hates every holiday, but because I love holidays, he tries his best to make them special for me. My Christmas tradition is to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. I do it every single year and listen to the soundtrack ad nauseam.

  11. I have mixed feelings on Christmas. My birthday is on December 24th and so my birthday is constantly overshadowed by Christmas. Between the christmas/birthday presents or never being able to really celebrate on my actual birthday, i've been a Scrooge from time to time. Just yesterday my mom got defensive when I said she did the Christmas/Birthday present thing too! So then she got me a new pair of shoes for good measure 🙂 I've come to accept it though.

    The one Christmas memory I have is my mom always playing her John Lennon Christmas Album on Christmas morning. She loves John Lennon. I used to get really embarrassed when she would play the CD until it started skipping… but now I love those songs and it reminds me Christmas is truly here!!
    My recent post These Mofos STEAL??

  12. Great Post! My childhood Christmas memories were spectacular. My mom really made it an event to remember every year. My whole family gathered together for dinner and exchanging gifts. I always think back and smile at those memories. But no kids, no SO makes for a pretty bland Christmas.
    Sadly since my mom passed 11 years ago I just don't get into it. My family stopped their gathering together so its become a less memorable event. But on a more positive note if I have kids I definitely go all out and do the very things my mom had us do from decorations to writing letters to Santa.

  13. I really don't have any stand out spectacular Christmases. As a youngin I always got plenty gifts–mostly what I wanted and felt loved so maybe that's why. My favorite gift probably includes the Barbie vanity station I got around age 4 for my bedroom, In subsequent years the various Barbie house, cars, soda shop, ice cream shop. etc. I also used to collect the Christmas Barbies. Oh I wish I had kept them now. I lived for all things Barbie. I have never been a fan of surprises so I almost always knew what I was getting as I got older because I picked all my gifts out but my parents always found a way to surprise with one small token. I appreciate that. even when I told them not to!!

    I love decorating the house, I miss that probably the most about not living at home. my mom saves Christmas cards and displays some around the house and I love to read them over and over.

    In my family we have adopted the "Christmas is for the children" so we keep it pretty lowkey these days. We give small gifts, and my mom and I have a tradition to go shopping during After Christmas sales. We do that instead of Black Friday madness.

    I love love love Christmas music though. I actually listen to it year round. and I love the food. this time of the year is the only time i probably overindulge. and I love love love Egg Nog. 🙂
    My recent post I know that we don’t know each other well…

  14. "Key gifts that year were the board-games Candyland and Shoots and Ladders."

    In my parent's house, it was Monopoly. We got a freaking Monopoly game every year, and eventually, it became a joke gift. The sad thing is with all seven Monopoly games we have, lost so many pieces and "money" that we probably still couldn't actually play a game combining the pieces from all of them.

    One of the things that makes me nostalgic are the Christmas cartoons. Particularly Charlie Brown and Garfield, which I haven't seen in years. It's scary that I still know all the songs from the Garfield one, considering I havent' seen it in so long (I need to find the DVD or YouTube it). I also have to watch Home Alone and A Christmas Story.

    One of my childhood memories was my grandmother from California visiting or sending us a big box of Christmas gifts as a kid. Unfortunately she passed this year, and this will be my first Christmas without her.

    1. yes yes yes….I have great memories of the cartoons and Charlie Brown and The Christmas Story Movie….."you'll poke your eye out" lol

  15. Good post homie. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the memories it brought back. Love the point about beginning new traditions with your family; all men need to eventually get to this point.

  16. Great post, Mr. Spradley.

    I lost my grandmother January, 2004, right after Christmas. I was back at school for a week, then I got the call. Christmas 2003 was the last time I saw her, and she was sick in bed, and could barely talk, but she recognized all of us, and was able to acknowledge our presences in the house, even though she was unable to enjoy all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grands. Before whe came home, back to her house, she had been in the hospital, and then hospice. And once they decided that it oculd be any day, my mom and her siblings decided to bring her home so she could be around family for hte last time. It was rough, and everyone went through the motions of having a happy Christmas, but it was rough. Its still rough…

    My recent post My Love Is Like…

  17. I love this season the most because it allows for my siblings and I to act like silly kids again. This is the time of the year I am thankful for my 4 siblings, and the adult relationships we've developed over the years. One year, we played the white elephant game. HIlarity ensued. Imagine a bunch of grown adults scrambling over gifts, trying to guess which package had a gift we wanted. My niece and nephew probaly still think we're crazy. lol.

    As for Christmas music, I love it. Everything, from the classical renditions, to the jazz and r&b covers of old favorites. And let's not forget the hip-hop Christmas classics. Do you remember the TLC one? *T-boz voice* "Have a merry, merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!" Left-Eye had bars on that track. lol.
    My recent post My Love Is Like…

  18. Im not a huge Christmas person, but they always provide great family-story fodder. My mother never bought a Christmas tree until after 6pm on Christmas Eve in order to get the "best deal"… she would decorate that bad boy and the whole house that evening. Those decorations would stay up until February lol.Christmas day, she makes brunch for the whole family… I guess it should be more like brinner, because she made breakfast foods (omelettes, waffles, etc) as well as a ham, mac& cheese, etc.
    Now that I'm older and we're all spread out, my siblings reserve Christmas for their nuclear family. Until I start my own family, I'm this odd-woman-out. Normally I travel during the break, but this year I'm on-call so I need to stay connected.
    My favorite holiday songs: Stevie Wonder What Christmas means to me; Bobby Helms Jingle Bell Rock; Eartha Kitt Santa Baby and Donny Hathaway This Christmas. I tend to stop whatever I'm doing to belt this songs out, and as you can imagine I mainly hear them in public places. I'm not ashamed!
    My recent post Good Mourning

  19. My favs are Donny Hathaway (or Lalah Hathaway cause she is the only one who holds a candle to her dads singing voice) singing This Christmas. When I was a kid I liked the Santa Baby song….lol Used to try to sing it sexy at like 7 and 8 years old…lol
    I also really like Sounds of Blackness Soul Holiday song and Johnny Gill Give Love On Christmas Day. Anything Luther Vandross sings is great including Christmas Songs…
    I lost quite a few family members around Christmas so the memories are very bittersweet.
    I’m always mindful of the “Reason for the Season”
    I hope everyone has a Wonderful Beautiful Christmas and enjoys your time with your family and friends. I know I will……*smile* (especially all that good soul food….yum).

  20. cool post man…

    i always had positive memories of christmas…the 2 that stick out, is that mom would make egg nogg using a blender…she'd make a version for me, and then a version for herself and dad (w/ Guiness stout)…and my dad would play christmas music every sunday after thanksgiving…and then every night the week before christmas…and it's why i probably always have a copy of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass's Christmas album.

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