The record player was kept in a wooden cupboard, which was adorned with family photos. It only came out for Christmas, not necessarily Christmas Day, but Christmas decorating.
Mario Lanza’s Christmas album was the perfect soundtrack to decorating my grandmother’s front room. I sat on the orange brown carpet and plugged in the ceramic light up Christmas tree, while Mario belted out, “Oh Come All Ye Faithful.”
I opened the box that contained the nativity scene, and the tiny plastic Santa driving his sleigh with connected reindeer. That one was my favorite. Baba smiled as I placed the sleigh and reindeer on the roof of the manger so Santa could bring gifts to the baby Jesus.
She sat on the stiff floral couch and listened to her favorite crooner as she supervised the placement of painted pine cones around the nativity scene. I asked what she wanted for her upcoming birthday.
“Oh, you don’t have to get me anything, honey,” she said, and we both knew I would get her tealight candles.
“Are you going to make fruitcake cookies this year?” I asked.
“Well, if that’s what everybody wants,” she said, and we both knew that she would.
Whenever I think of Baba at this time of year, I think of those Christmas decorations. I think of tealight candles and fruitcake cookies, and all the while Mario Lanza is singing in the background.
There is such comfort in the familiar, and music will always take you back. So if you can’t be with your loved ones this holiday season, put on a record (or pull up a You Tube) and find something to enjoy.