My second favorite Christmas song was on one of our many Christmas albums but not the ones we bought at the Firestone when we lived in Conroe, Texas. Isn’t that silly? A tire company putting out albums of Christmas songs and carols by contemporary artists. “Contemporary” meaning singers like Robert Goulet, Steve and Edie, Andy Williams and his murderess wife Claudine Longet, and always Johnny Mathis. Johnny Mathis was my secret love with I was ten. I discovered in my early twenties that my mother’s decade earlier proclamation–after my true love confession–I could never marry Johnny was not driven by racism but because he was gay. For ten years, I thought it was the race thing and I harbored a secret shame my mother was a racist. So what’s the bigger tragedy here that I somehow missed the fact Johnny Mathis was a big old queen? (the girl sweater he wore on his Christmas album should have given it away) Or I thought my mother was a racist?
I still love the “We need a little Christmas” song and I remember when I was given permission to gently play albums on the stereo how careful I had to be to not bounce the needle or I would hear a big “SCREEECHHH” through the speakers followed by a shouted admonishment from somewhere else in the house. This was one of the songs I liked to play over and over again so I could dance to it.
Have I mentioned my mother would turn our home into a Winter Wonderland and every surface in the house was covered with a Christmas themed decoration? It was like the Sears decorating department had moved into our house between November 28th-ish and January 2nd. Did I also mention I wasn’t supposed to touch anything? Do you know how hard that is for an eight year old who needs props for her musical dance numbers?
I would put the Firestone Family Christmas album on and bounce the needle from song to song while dancing around the house. “Winter Wonderland” was a Follies type number, usually with a table wreath balanced precariously on my head. “Let It Snow” was an ice stating performance in the “marble” foyer. “Do You Hear What I Hear” was an interpretive ballet that would have either delighted Isadora Duncan or horrified her depending on how much opium she had ingested. But “We Need A Little Christmas” was a boisterous number that featured me flying around the house like an ADHD kid who cheeked her meds and plowed through the fudge stash. In between the flying around, pulling together Christmas, I would act out the words complete with finger wagging as an effort to admonish my invisible audience to get their Christmas on that very minute and drag show worthy lip syncing when the chirpy singer says: “it hasn’t snowed a flake!”
No wonder my mother had to lay down for a nap every afternoon.
Merry Christmas from the Yellow House!