Sunday, December 9, 2012

It's a Marshmallow World

Winters were winters back when this photo of two of my aunts walking with friends up the buried-under the-snow-cinder driveway lined with barren poplar trees leading to the farmhouse was taken. The barn off to the right is not the barn I used for inspiration when writing The Reindeer Keeper. It's a different barn. A part of it was used to store the ice my grandfather hauled by horse and sled from a nearby river in the dead of winter. Packed in sawdust, the ice would usually last through summer. Sadly the barn is no longer there. Except for one, the mighty poplars are gone as well. Where that barn was situated is where the house I lived in with my family was built. In the summer that field between those trees and the barn was a grand garden.

Thinking about how high the snow banks grew and how deep the snow became when I was growing up makes me think of my mother this time of the year and a 33rpm record album she played over and over on a record player which was a part of a real fancy console with a radio included. She bought the massive piece complete with a storage area for record albums as a gift for the family-or so she said. Thinking back, I believe the main purpose of that console was for my mother to play the Dean Martin Christmas album. In particular, one certain song from that album-'A Marshmallow World'-was played and replayed all through December. Each of us knew every word, every pause of that song. My mother was a fanatic Saturday morning clean-the-house thoroughly person which meant I had to pitch in. Dean Martin made it all go so much faster-at least for December that is!

A favorite part of the weeks leading to Christmas was the line-up of Variey Show Christmas specials on television. Back then there was a distinct time frame as to when getting ready for Christmas began. That was after Thanksgiving and not before. So when those entertaining Variety Shows started to air in early December, we knew the Holiday Season was upon us! We'd all sit down together and watch them. Each was eagerly anticipated. Without saying, Dean Martin's was a favorite but so were the hour-long specials from Mr. Christmas himself-Andy Williams. When he sang, "Oh Holy Night", it was silent in our living room and when his beautiful, French wife Claudine Longet was performing with him, it seemed magical. Perry Como's Christmas specials were wonderful. It was fun to see where the show was coming from as the location changed yearly. One thing that didn't change was his singing of "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas." Of course the Bob Hope Christmas Specials were always anticipated. I particularly remember the ones he performed in Vietnam. Who can forget The Carol Burnett Christmas shows or The Bing Crosby Christmas specials or The Lawrence Welk Christmas prograns. But out of all the many entertaining Christmas specials by the many talented performers and their guests one of my very favorite Christmas shows was that of Red Skelton, especially when he was in character as Freddie the Freeloader. I loved the endings of his shows. I always felt as if he was speaking just to me.

The era of richly entertaining Christmas specials seems to have come and gone unless you go to YouTube or buy the DVDs. But watching them over the internet or via a DVD is nothing like watching them in your own living room surrounded by family as the feeling of Christmas fills your home and outside falling snow creates a magical Marshmallow World!

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