A ‘70s type of Christmas

Published 5:54 pm Tuesday, December 9, 2014

After 36 years of marriage, there are some routines that you fall into during holidays.  We have a brunch on Christmas morning with my brother’s family with the menu always the same.  People sit in the same seats at the dinner table.  You can even guess which presents might have come from certain people just by the way they are wrapped.

For most of those years, Mary Lou and I have divided the tasks related to putting up and decorating the Christmas tree.  Typically, I bring the tree in and put on the lights, no small task with over 2,000 small lights decorating the tree.

Mary Lou puts on the ornaments.  Some of them date back to our first year of marriage.  Others we collected along the way during our travels, something we do to this day.  She carefully places each one, remembering the story behind every ornament.

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There is nothing like grandchildren to change your routines.  The week our tree had to go up, Mary Lou was babysitting in Dothan for the week.  Usually I am the one that is away for days at a time.  I promised to have the tree up and ready for her by the time she returned.

Like most men with a chore and a deadline, I waited until the last day.   I opened the door to the patio and turned on the satellite radio to the channel that only plays music from the 1970’s.  Harry, my dog, settled into his normal position under the piano, safely out of the way of falling branches and discarded lights.

Somewhere along the way this task had become more of a chore to me than an opportunity to have fun and celebrate.  This night seemed to be no different.   It was then that I heard the first song over the speakers.  “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night was played for years on my 8-Track player before I got an FM radio in my car.  The gates to Memory Lane had been flung open.

The decade started out with such classics as “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head” and “The Long and Winding Road”.  It ended with the Bee Gees at the top of the charts with “Baby Come Back” and “Night Fever” in 1979.  In fact, the Bee Gees had more weeks at #1 than any other group during the 70’s.  No one else was even close.

For three hours I put up the tree and unbundled the lights.  I opened the doors to the warm night air and turned up the stereo until it was rattling the figurines on the piano.  Someone walking by on the street would have treated to a 60 year old man dancing around the tree singing at the top of his lungs.

It wasn’t just the memory of those songs that put me in such a great mood.  I could remember something about every single song.  Some I discovered as Mary Lou and I dated and married.  Others triggered memories of friends from Girard Junior High School and Dothan High.  Later, I sang and danced to many of these hits at the SAE House in Auburn.

There are too many old friends to name here, but many of you would have the same memories from the songs of those days.  A chore became a delightful time, all because of musical memories embedded somewhere deep in my brain.

To top it off, every single strand of lights on the tree worked the very first time.  Talk about miracles!  I hope each of you finds that song during these holidays that helps you recapture the magic of this holiday season.