There is something about the song, “Silent Night” that brings me to tears. Not like, just once in a while, but every time I hear it. It doesn’t matter who is singing it, or where I hear it, when I hear that song, I’m brought back to Christmas Eve in my childhood home. I’m eight years old.
My mom is in the kitchen wearing her poinsettia apron and baking a ham with sliced pineapple rings and cloves. My dad is putting out the shrimp cocktail and getting the bar stocked with ice, soda, water and all things alcohol for the party guests. My brother and I are wearing matching plaid pajamas, and the Christmas music is playing throughout the house.
Soon the family and friends arrive. The Christmas tree is big – so big, it takes up an entire corner of our huge family room. But it’s amazing. There are presents under the tree, spilling over behind the sofa & coffee table. The fireplace is lit, and the house is toasty & warm.
Outside, my dad has the house lit up with multi-colored lights, big plastic candles adorn each side of the front brick steps, and there’s a Santa with his reindeer in the yard. It’s like a twinkling-blinking Hallmark card.
Soon Gene will be playing, “Silent Night” on the piano. We’ll all gather around, and he’ll smile that big smile. He looks like Dean Martin, and for a long time, I thought he was Dean Martin. Rita & Gene are friends of my grandparents, and my mom & dad adopted them as their friends too. They come to all our Christmas, 4th of July, Easter, and all things festive.
I’m brought back to that house, that room with the piano. I’m brought back to Gene’s smile and the overwhelming feeling of love that surrounded us every Christmas Eve.
When I hear that song, it brings me back.
Someday, I hope my kids are brought back to their childhood. And I hope they remember the love.
Christmas is so not about the gifts.
At 49 years old, I’m still brought back to the memories. I don’t remember what presents I got that year. I don’t remember opening them, or what Santa brought me.
But I do remember, “Silent Night” – and Christmas morning with my mom, drinking hot cocoa before ‘the boys’ woke up. And I remember the smile on my parents face, as they watched my brother and I opening our presents. I know what they were feeling because I feel it now when I watch my children on Christmas morning.