My mother Helen and I with my son Aaron
Well, it happened; I wasn’t sure when the tears would come, but sure as it’s the Christmas season that feeling of happy sadness touched my heart. I blame it on James Taylor singing this song. (Sappy. Cheesy. But true.)
Out running errands, turning left into the rainless sunshine cracking through the clouds, there were the familiar lines in a familiar voice, reminding me of long ago. My heart cracked a little, too. How my mother loved to sing. Any time, anywhere.
Although my mother’s been gone over 30 years I can vividly remember her joining in on a Johnny Mathis tune, her throaty alto sounding the bass line. She loved the soulful singers of the day–Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and especially Harry Belafonte. (Oh, the Banana Boat Song. ‘Day-O!’)
My mother’s appreciation of music and song rubbed off on all five us kids (my family and friends will tell you I’ll pretty much burst into song at the drop of a hat.) My brother, sister and I were all in glee club before it was cool, and my mom came to all of our concerts.
Although financially we couldn’t even afford a record player, we did have a radio. One. And it was on most of the time.
Because my mother was determined to expose us to ‘good music’ she made it a point to take us to free concerts in the Southern California area where I grew up. Each year one of the outdoor malls had special Christmas concerts with full choir and orchestra. I think this is where I first heard Handel’s “Messiah.”
Of course the Christmas music my mother enjoyed was sung by Andy Williams and Nat King Cole, Dean Martin and others. As a teenager she heard me rave about James Taylor but what would she think if she heard him singing some of those traditional Christmas tunes today?
(Yes, he has a recording of that song, too.)
I think she’d be overjoyed–which makes me smile (and sometimes cry).
I think she’d also enjoy Josh Groban and Andrea Boccelli. Probably Michael Buble (ah, sappy again.)
I miss my mother very much, especially at Christmas, but I’m grateful for the gift of music and song she gave me so very long ago.
And I’m grateful to my Saviour that I now know the One I was singing about all those years ago.
“Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.”
II Corinthians 9:15