Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Saturnalia

I know I’m not the only person that feels a sense of emptiness and loss as I watch my babies grow into young adults. I’ve just been looking at my Christmas records over the years.

Every year since the 70s I’ve made Christmas music for my mother. It started out as original music but when the kids happened, that became too difficult. I found it easier to make psychedelic versions of the standards. I think the whole idea was inspired by the Beatles Christmas records. They released one every year for their fan club.

The pics on the pre-kid covers were usually the highlight from that year’s biggest adventure. When the kids came along I used pictures of them of course. My mother loved it.

I think when Dylan was 6 and Chloe was 4 I started using them on the recordings. I was afraid they were a little hard for folks to listen to so I stopped putting them on St. Louis’ annual Noelathon.

The Noelathon is a Christmas project run by my good friend Margaret Bianchetta. Proceeds go to charity. She used to try to get me and Stephen Martin to ring bells for The Salvation Army. She’s really into the Christmas thing. I will have to do a post about her one of these days.

In the 4th century, when Christians had only just stopped being Jewish a hundred years earlier, the Pope decided to take Rome’s best party Saturnalia and call it Christ’s birthday. For some reason, when the Romans took it from the Pagans, they decided the solstice was the 25th.

In spite of my hatred of all things religious, I love the holidays. The best experiences are shared ones. Consider how much less fun it is to drink alone. I love sharing a party or ritual. I think most people do. I also know what it’s like when you go through a holiday alone. There is nothing lonelier!

But, as usual, I digress. I have mixed emotions when I look at my kids growing up on the CD covers. I still think about running around an entire block twice holding a bicycle up by its seat, or pushing one of them on a swing. It’s amazing how much richer your idea of love becomes when you have kids.

On this year’s cover they’re standing in front of the tree we brought home. There’s an old woman who lives on an island off the River Road in Illinois. For years we’ve taken a ferry over and she lets us cut one down. Either her daughter lives there now or I’ve just gotten older but the woman over there seems younger. The back cover is a bridge in the park across the street from our apartment.

The back cover of the 2003 CD is the last winter I still had a whole family. Kim’s even in the picture. We were sailing just off a small island by Puerto Rico. Married life obviously wasn’t healthy for me judging by how fat I was then.

I ended up getting sun poisoning when Dylan and I snorkeled through a coral reef there. Parts of my back I couldn’t reach with sun screen were directly exposed to hours of tropical sun. The itching, burning, misery I went through was only alleviated by a waterfall I found up in the hills of the Puerto Rican rain forest. As I stood under it I was in ecstasy as tons of water pounded my back. Oh, a lot of booze helped too.

The pic on back cover of the 1999 CD was taken by Dylan. I was shooting basketball hoops at the garage of a friend of ours in Chicago. Dylan was 5 and had just gotten his first camera. I loved that it was taken from his perspective. It gave insight into how he saw the world.

The kids used to just sing on the CDs. Last year Chloe played flute and Dylan composed the basic melody. He wrote it out on staff paper and had me play it. He presented the music to my mother with the CD.

This year Chloe played flutes and Dylan played bass guitar. I might put it on my music MySpace. The kids are getting much better and perhaps we’ll be making appearances at the annual Noelathon again.

Happy Christmas, I hope you’re able to share it with someone.

Oh and I almost forgot, don't forget the true meaning of Christmas----

Share a Coke with Santa!


...Sharon said...

I think this is one of the most wonderful family traditions. Are you ever going to perform live with the kids?

Doggie said...

Hey the pic for 2007 was when we went to Joe and Linda's. RThe snow was beautiful out there!!!!! Not to mention Joe's old Oyster Bar cheese soup.

Anonymous said...

Yeah! Put that music on myspace, David. Dede

Anonymous said...

These Christmas treats have always been a great joy to me!

Your Mom

Anonymous said...

What about 04 ?