Just one under the tree

Whether you celebrate Christmas or something else, here’s hoping you enjoy the time spent with friends and family.

Because you just never know.

Twenty years ago, we did our best to enjoy Christmas. But my mom was rapidly becoming lost to Alzheimer’s disease. She was diagnosed in the early ’80s and we’d learned to go with the flow, to savor the good days and manage the bad days, but this was different. Much different.

I vividly remember thinking: “So this is what Christmas is going to be like from now on.” Not in the sense of feeling bad for myself, but rather what we would need to do for family gatherings — how would we make memories — when Mom is there, but not really there at all.

It never came to that. Mom died the following July.

You just never know.

On a winter day almost 40 years ago, Louis Armstrong went to work in the den at his home at 34-56 107th Street in Corona, Queens, New York. That day — Friday, Feb. 26, 1971 — he recorded this:

“The Night Before Christmas (A Poem),” Louis Armstrong, 1971,  from “The Stash Christmas Album,” 1985. It’s out of print, but you can find the original 7-inch single (Continental CR 1001) on eBay.

There’s no music. Just Satchmo’s warm, gravelly voice and Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem.

“But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight, ‘Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night. A very good night.’

“And that goes for Satchmo, too. (Laughs softly.) Thank you.”

It was the last thing he ever recorded. Satchmo died the following July.

You just never know.

Embrace the moment.


Filed under December 2009, Sounds

3 responses to “Just one under the tree

  1. Ironic as I just listened to this reading this morning. RIP Louis!

  2. thingsimustsay

    Wow, what a great reminder — and a great recording to go along with it. 🙂 Thanks, and merry Christmas to you and yours. 🙂

  3. whiteray

    Yes, embrace the moment. Thanks. And may you and yours be safe and happy.

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