Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

What is the world coming to?!  Global warming?  The polar ice caps are melting?  I don’t know, but I’ll bet Al Gore has an explanation.  It was 50 degrees in Connecticut last weekend, but it snowed in Atlanta.  You heard me.  It snowed in Atlanta.  In fact, it snowed here for three consecutive days.  Nope…I take that back.  Make that four consecutive snow days for Atlanta because it’s snowing again today…right this very minute.  Did you get that?  IT’S SNOWING AGAIN TODAY!  That has to be some kind of record.  It snowed on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and some more today.  Really!  Ask anyone.  Okay.  So nothing accumulated, and it’s been anemic at best, but catching a glimpse of even the tiniest of snow flakes floating gracefully through the air makes me giddy!  (Speaking of giddy, CHRISTIAN WILL BE HOME FROM COLLEGE IN JUST A FEW HOURS!)

I get giddy over snow, and it’s not because it stirs up memories of my childhood winters in Connecticut.  No, no.  It’s because snow whips southern folks into a frenzy and it’s fun for transplants like me to watch.  The minute Glenn Burns (one of our local weather personalities…FYI they’re not weather men anymore…sheesh) even hints at dropping the “S” bomb, Atlantans (and I can only assume this is true for all southerners) rush out and buy up all the toilet paper, bottled water, milk, and bread from every grocery store in the entire metropolitan area and surrounding counties.  I swear it’s true.  And another thing.  Native Atlantans think snow flurries call for umbrellas.  Now any self-respecting Yankee knows that you do not, I repeat YOU DO NOT, use an umbrella when it is snowing.  No, no, no.  When it is snowing, you drop your head back as far as it will go, look up toward the heavens, open your mouth and catch snow flakes on your tongue.  Please do not attempt to argue with me about this.  That is what you do when it snows, and it cannot be done if you are holding an umbrella up over your head.  It’s not proper snow protocol.  I mean the whole point of walking around outside in the snow is to let it land on you for Pete’s sake.  Plus, it’s just plain weird to see people walking around outside in the snow with umbrellas hoisted up over their heads.  And how about those people, caught without snow boots or galoshes, who wrap their shoes in plastic grocery bags and think they can walk around in the snow?  Do they know how ridiculous they look?  Umbrellas overhead, plastic bags for shoes, carrying sacks full of toilet paper and bottled water?

As if southerners walking around in the snow isn’t insane enough, you should see what happens when they get behind the wheel of a car after a good dusting of the white stuff.  Good heavens.  It’s sliding and skidding and spinning and car after car, having bumped into one thing or another, pulled off to the side of the road every ten yards for miles on end.  I’ll tell you what.  Southerners just need to stay put when it snows.  Start a fire in the fireplace, people.  Pop some popcorn and drink some cocoa.  Please.  It’s like the song says, “Oh the weather outside is frightful and the fire is so delightful.  Since we’ve no place to go.  Let it snow!  Let it snow!  Let it snow!”

Merry Christmas to all and to all a…  Good night.  Sleep tight.

Here I Come A-Caroling

Let me start by telling you I love Christmas carols.  I used to love to play Christmas Carols on my flute.  When I did, however, it was much to the chagrin of my family including Pudge, the best dog in the whole, entire universe.  For some odd reason I never was inspired to play anything other than Christmas carols (except for “Carnival of Venice” which I learned when I was nine years old and would play over and over for my dying grandmother, who layed motionless in a hospital bed parked in her dining room having supplanted the formal dinner table that sat eight).  For the better part of any given year post 1976, the flute remained nestled snuggly in its case  lined in navy blue velvet.  This is why my playing each December sounded, shall we say, rusty.  Even when I was younger, took lessons and practiced daily, I never was more than a mediocre musician, so I suppose I couldn’t argue with Pat’s and the boys’ annual protesting when, as advent season approached,  I unpacked my instrument and dusted off my ancient copy of Favorite Easy Christmas Flute Solos. Apparently my playing even made the dog nervous.  So much for all that rubbish about music soothing the savage breast.

Rather than struggling my way through the few songs my dilettante musicianship allowed and in order to restore familial harmony, I simply abandoned the whole idea of accompanying my gang on the flute whilst they cozied up around the fireplace watching the chestnuts pop, singing “Sleigh Ride” and sipping hot cocoa topped with whipped cream and marshmallows.  As lovely as it was, this Courier and Ives fantasy of mine was unrealistic  for a number of reasons, the least of which probably was not even the quality of my flute playing.  I  am quite certain that if Marvin Hamlisch himself were to pop up uninvited on my doorstep and tinkle his way across the ivories on the piano in my living room, there still would be no hope of a spontaneous Datoc family sing-a-long.  Those of you who know us know there’s no mistaking my clan for the Osmonds.  That’s for sure.   Alas, the futility of it all makes it far less frustrating for everyone if I don’t play Christmas carols on my flute.

Now pay attention because I am about to tell you a secret.  Get ready.  I sing along with the radio when I am alone in the car.  You’re probably thinking, “Shut up!  No, really?  I do that too!”  I’m not going to delude myself into thinking I’m all that special.  It’s not as if I’m in a state of oblivion.  Really, I am aware that I’m not the only person who sings in the car.  Let me say this, though.  I just don’t sing when I’m in the car.  No, no, no.  I SING when I’m in the car.  There is something acoustically perfect about driving around in a car that compels me to turn up the volume on the radio and sing at the top of my lungs especially at Christmas time. Remember I love Christmas carols. There’s this XM radio station, channel 4, called Holly that is all Christmas music all the time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week starting the week before Thanksgiving and lasting through New Years.  I LOVE TO SING ALONG WITH CHRISTMAS CAROLS ON XM RADIO CHANNEL 4.  I even sing the obscure tunes.  What, you are wondering, do I do if I don’t know the words?  Not a problem.  I just make them up as I go along!  Right or wrong, I belt out lyrics from the pit of my stomach in brassy There’s-No-Business-Like-Show-Business Ethel Merman style.  And by the way, for those of you youngsters who don’t know who Ethel Merman was, she had  more knock’em dead panache and bigger chops than Celine Dion, Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce COMBINED.  I am not kidding.  When she opened her mouth to sing it was with impeccable diction, perfect projection, and bring the house down Broadway charisma.

I mean no disrespect to Ms. Merman (may she rest in peace) by comparing myself to her.  I’m just saying, I’ve been known to pack quite a powerful vocal punch myself (that is, when I’m behind the wheel of course).  It’s why I find it necessary to restrict myself to singing when, and ONLY when, I am alone in the car.  See, about five years ago I was driving the kids home from school one afternoon.  While cantillating along to one of my all-time favorites, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” I figured I’d try pushing my pipes to their absolute limit.  I was approaching the peak of my crescendo, headed for the big finish, “glory-ee toooo the neeeew boooorrrrn KINGGGG,” when from the back seat Jared exploded.

“ENOUGH, MOM,” he shouted, “PLEASE STOP!”

I quickly looked to my right.  Christian, clad in sound muffling headphones was slumped in the passenger seat, fast asleep.  I immediately glanced in the rear view mirror and beheld a sight that made me gasp.  Truly, I tell you, my heart skipped a beat.  For my singing, infused with the emotional essence of Christmas, had driven Jared to the brink of tears.

“Honey, are you all right?”

“Mom.  Please don’t sing like that anymore.  It…”

“I know sweetie,” I interrupted.

It felt obscene: my suppressing a threatening convulsion of excitement, which came at the expense of my ten-year-old son’s struggling to control an avalanche of feelings.  Did I even dare to imagine that my…singing possibly could have incited such a quagmire of sensibilities?  This, I imagined, must be how Sally Field felt when accepting her Best Actress Oscar, “You love me!  You really love me.”  (Okay maybe she actually said like but love works better in my story.)

“You don’t need to explain.” I consoled, “Mommy understands.”

And that, my friends, is why I try my very best to sing Christmas carols when, and ONLY when, I am driving in the car by myself.  I mean it’s hard enough to drive and sing simultaneously, let alone juggle an emotionally charged carload of passengers too.  It simply isn’t safe.  Oh well (sigh).  There is something acoustically perfect about driving around in a car that compels me to turn up the volume on the radio and sing at the top of my lungs especially at Christmas time. Remember I love Christmas carols. I have to admit I am surely far from perfect and there are times when I fail to control my impulses.  Thankfully Jared always is quick to remind me.

“ENOUGH, MOM!  PLEASE STOP!”  We have a very special mother-son bond which is why he is so susceptible to the effects of  my singing.  He’s so emotional.

Till tomorrow…  Good night.  Sleep tight.