“Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane snow is glistening. A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight walking in a winter wonderland.” Every Christmas, from the time I was little, meaning the day after Thanksgiving till the epiphany on January 6th, my mom got out the record player and put on her Johnny Mathis Christmas albums. My mom loved Johnny Mathis. I know every single line of every single Christmas song Johnny sang. Maybe I subconsciously love Johnny too.
And while the records were playing we were always doing something festive like stringing popcorn or those paper circle strands of red and green. We had an artificial tree my dad would find in the basement and my parents would struggle figuring out where each branch stuck into the trunk. I would busy myself with the colorful bulbs and lights and tinsel. Tinsel was really big back then. We had the same decorations every year packed away with the tree, including the nativity. I can still picture that big red Santa and a big green wreath made of some kind of crazy plastic that my mom hung on the wall in the living room on each side of the tree. And I wish I knew who got the green elves she had that sat around the house way before the Elf on the Shelf.
If only I had my collection of decorations to pull out, all 25 years of them. I’m one of those expats renting a house out to others back in the US with all our personals packed away in brown boxes. Of course we couldn’t ship the contents of our household, just the essentials for one year abroad here in Amsterdam. Um, we’re on our second year. So here we are renting an apartment filled with other people’s stuff. No bother, I’ve already started another holiday collection, much to my husband’s shagrin.
Patty, my mom, who traveled to The Hague and Copenhagen for a couple Christmases with us on this side of the pond, would ask my husband to play Johnny Mathis for her. Back then we used CD players. Luckily, she brought one with her, the one where Johnny’s on the cover standing with his skis in the snow. It’s been 14 years since my mom passed away in early December. As we decorate our rented apartment this week in Amsterdam, with a collection of 2 years strong, I’m lucky I can program Spotify or YouTube for Johnny to sing Sleigh Ride or any of his timeless songs to ring in that Christmas cheer and memories of Patty. Thanks Johnny!