“Gift for the Giver”, based on a Random Acts of Flowers arrangement, mixed media by Kerry McFall
I lit a cinnamon-roll scented candle and put a CD into the player the other day as I was about to start this painting, and was transported back to 1964. At the first “DooWaaaaah” from the Ray Conniff Singers (yes, DooWaa’s are a major feature of their version of “White Christmas”), I was surrounded by a sea of Harvest Gold shag carpet, and I could feel the pressure of knowing that I should be doing my homework or folding the laundry instead of daydreaming about Christmas weddings.
Our stereo was a huge colonial-style maple edifice that occupied one entire end of the living room. I cursed it every Saturday morning as I dusted the half acre lid, but when I opened it, I always felt like I was getting away with something slightly naughty. You had to be about 14 years old before you were allowed to actually play a 33 rpm record (play a record – doesn’t that sound archaic?), so it was kind of a Big Deal.
Sliding the Christmas with Conniff record out of the well worn jacket took coordination and hands big enough to span from the center label to the outer edge. Heaven help you if you actually touched the grooves, and trust me, such things did not go unnoticed. There was a special velvety brush and a tiny bottle of liquid for removing fingerprints and dust, always applied by my father with a stern lecture to the offender. About the only thing worse you could do was to not put a screwdriver back in the proper hanger on his workbench…
I don’t know much about music, my own musical education consisting of about 4 piano lessons at age 8 from Mr. Fox, an old man with a huge nose that he actually powdered. But “Christmas with Conniff” was a beloved family Christmas tradition, and without intending to commit it to memory, I know every note, anticipate every cheesy call of “Hey, kids, wanna build a snowman?” Only from Conniff have I ever heard calypso guitar, drum brushes, harp, tambourine, Irish tenor, and cowbell all in the same song: “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” never had so many minor falls and major lifts…
I remember listening over and over one year to the song about being a Christmas bride… “Santa, make me his bride for Christmas…” But that never happened, the jerk didn’t propose. My little brothers put their allowances together that year and bought me a tiny diamond pendant necklace for Christmas. Very uncharacteristic of boys who usually showed their affection for me by feeding my date’s hat to Heather the Disappearing Airedale.
My own kids have endured the album (…and the tape, and now the CD…and me singing along!) with relative good humor for their entire growing up years. My daughter is about to become a bride for Christmas, and I’m lobbying hard for “Christmas Bride” to be on the wedding dance tape my son has promised to produce. My grandson, who is considerably cuter than me, is lobbying just as hard for, “Who Let the Dogs Out”, so we’ll see how much clout me and Mr. Conniff can still wield!