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Opinion: Christmas memories

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What is it that you like most about this Christmas time of year? If you are like me, there is not just one thing, but several. I love Christmas. First of all, I love what Christmas means – as I have talked about in my columns over the last several weeks. Also, as I have said so many times, I love music. So for me, I relate happenings, events, special memories, etc. to music.

Of course, for most of us, traditional Christmas songs include: “White Christmas,” “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire),” “Frosty The Snowman,” “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph The Red- Nosed Reindeer,” Andy Williams singing “Happy Holidays” or Perry Como singing “There’s No Place Like Home For The Holidays.” In fact, I also love The Carpenters version of that one too.

There are many more Christmas songs that I did not mention. We all have our favorite Christmas song. In the last few years, I have started listening to Christmas music recorded by some of my favorite artists. It is not a complete musical Christmas for me unless I hear The Eagles singing “Please Come Home For Christmas.” I also have to hear “Feliz Navidad,” Cheech and Chong’s “Santa Claus and his Old Lady” and Bob and Doug McKenzie’s version of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” Bob and Doug’s version always brings back memories of a close friend from my high school days.

RandyLast week, I downloaded a Christmas album by one of my favorite all time groups (Chicago) (love those horns). I have been listening to Christmas albums by both George Strait and the country music group Alabama since the late 1980’s. A few weeks ago, I downloaded a Christmas album by one of my favorite Christian artists (Paul Baloche). It is a great album with mostly all original Christmas themed songs and some re-worked Christmas versions of his previously released recordings. Oh, and I can not leave out “Holiday Love” by legendary local group           A-Train, who was a tremendously popular local group during my high school and college days. Due to space constraints, there is a lot of Christmas music that I like that I am leaving out, but you get the general idea.

I also have a few other Christmas memories that are important to me. I can remember traveling down Sibley Rd. in Minden during the mid-to-late 1960’s at this time of year (a two way street back in those days) on a frequent visit to my grandparents’ house (my mother grew up in Minden). I can remember looking out the back window of the car while hearing “Silver Bells” playing on the car radio. I could not have been more than five or six years old at the time. I can still remember how intrigued I was by the city’s glistening Christmas decorations adorning the poles of the street lights. I also remember the silver tinsel Christmas tree that we had in our “bay       window” with the multi colored rotating light device that changed the tree into different shades of color.

I remember visits to Coushatta where my Dad grew up. Visiting family “down home,” as my Grandmother Brown always referred to it, was always extra special at any time of the year, but especially at Christmas. I can remember several return trips from Coushatta in December coming back up Hwy. 1 (20+ years before I-49) to our home off of Ellerbe Rd. in South Shreveport (there wasn’t much out in that area back then). The traffic was always extremely heavy going south…as thousands of people were making the journey down to Natchitoches to see the Christmas lights.

As I have said in recent weeks, Christmas isn’t all about gifts, but as a kid, there are some wonderful gifts that I will always remember. Gosh, my parents have always been so good to me (though I would never admit to being spoiled). I remember my first set of drums from TG&Y when I was about six years old…guess my parents didn’t know how that gift would stick (almost 50 years later and I am still playing). I also remember the Fender Stratocaster electric guitar that I was just dying to have. Wow…I couldn’t put it down….mine was natural blonde. I am a Les Paul fan too, but nothing sounds like a “Strat!”

Oh, and there were non-musical gifts through the years too  – like the jumping Evel Knievel miniature motorcycle with the wind-up launcher, or the “G.I. Joe” miniature space capsule and the Cox gas engine car that ran off of the special Cox fuel mixture. I also remember the three speed Stingray bicycle (I forget what they called the bar that went all the way up behind the back seat) – mine was green.  I vividly remember my cousin Greg and I playing with our new toys, games, footballs, launching our Evel Knievel motorcycles, etc. underneath the huge Sycamore tree in the front yard of our grandparents‘ home on Midland Street in Minden.

I never make a trip to Minden without going by there and briefly reliving those days.

The Sycamore tree is no longer there, but I can still see it in my mind.       

I remember playing my trombone in the brass quartet for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve as a special guest at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Shreveport when I was a teenager (my first time to ever be out until 2:00am on my own). The church payed us $25.00 each. I thought that was such a big deal. As soon as my Mom found out the next morning, she threw a fit resulting in me being on the phone a few days later giving the money back to the church. Such a great lesson I learned from that at a young age. I also remember driving up Youree Drive in 1983 on Christmas Eve (after taking my girlfriend home) and the temperature on the bank sign read a frigid 2 degrees! It had never been that cold here in my lifetime and probably never will be again. Around that same time, the Red River actually froze solid for the first time since 1895. Temperatures that December went well over a week without climbing above 32 degrees.

And who could ever forget all of those wonderful Christmas dinners, deserts, candies, etc….and the wonderful times and memories shared with family and friends during the many fantastic meals and surrounding holiday events! What are your favorite Christmas memories? If you have time, please send them to me by email, fax or letter. My email is listed at the end of this column and our fax number and address can be found in the left side rail on Page 3. Once I receive your replies, I will share them in subsequent columns over the next few weeks.

Thank you for being a Bossier Press-Tribune reader!  We are most gracious and thankful for your support. And, let us not forget the very most important part of Christmas and the most precious present or gift that any of us will ever receive “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born unto you; HE is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11 NIV). Merry Christmas!

Randy Brown is publisher of the Bossier Press-Tribune. He can be reached at rbrown@bossierpress.com