I was listening to Trans-Siberian Orchestra in my Christmas mix the other day and for the first time caught the lyrics to "She's Comin' Home This Christmas Day".
Now, I know the song was written about a man who has lost his woman. He messed up Big Time in some way and she left his sorry ass. But somehow he's been forgiven and she's coming back to him at last. And on Christmas Day.
So he's getting out the tree and decking those halls and celebrating with great joy.
But as I listened, I thought about my Mom. And my Nana. And how wonderfully awesome it would be if they could come home for Christmas.
My mom would not have cared for Trans-Siberian Orchestra, by the way. I remember when we used to play hard rock or even soft rock music for her and at the end ask, "Did you like that, Mom?", and she'd always answer very carefully, not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings, "Well..."(slight pause) "it had a good beat!"
That was my mom. Always wanted to be positive. Even if she didn't like something, she didn't want to come right out and say so. Too polite for that.
One of my favorite memories of Mom and newer music was once in the car when I was driving us to go shopping. Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" came on the radio:
And when I get that feeling
I want Sexual Healing
Sexual Healing, oh baby
Makes me feel so fine
Helps to relieve my mind
Sexual Healing baby, is good for me
Sexual Healing is something that's good for me
"What on earth is that man singing?" Shock in her voice.
I glanced over at Mom; her expression was a mixture of confusion and disbelief.
"He's singing, 'sexual healing', Mom. It's the name of the song."
She grew more confused.
"They can say that on the radio?" Stunned.
Suppressing a laugh, I said, "Well, yeah, mom, they can say the word 'sexual' on the radio.. And it's a positive song, really, I think if you listened closely to it, you'd rather like it."
Marvin sang, Come take control, just grab a hold
Of my body and mind soon we'll be making it
Honey, oh we're feeling fine
You're my medicine open up and let me in
Mom breathed something like, "well...I never!"
Mom never really grew past the 40's when it came to music. Frank Sinatra was a little too wild for mom sometimes.
I think Trans-Siberian Orchestra would just blown her mind. Hard rock Christmas music. She wouldn't have understood it at all. She probably would have plastered a big fake grin on her face while she waited painfully for it to be over.
Nana was deaf in one ear from a childhood accident (don't ever stick bobby-pins in your ear, kids) and so was mercifully immune to music she didn't care for. She smiled all the time, no matter what music was playing; she was just damn happy to be with the family and having her Once A Year Beer in her hand.
Mom and Nana, unlike the rest of the family, were practically teetotalers. Sometimes at a family gathering they'd have one beer. And there was always a big discussion about it.
Nana to my mom: "Are you having a beer?"
Mom: "I was thinking about it...what do you think?"
Nana: "Well...maybe. Are you?"
Mom: "Well, now...I'm not sure. What do you think?"
Nana, giggling: "Maybe we could have just one...what do you think?"
Mom: "Well, now...just one couldn't hurt, could it?"
Nana: "I don't know, what do you th-"
At this point, either one of my brothers or I would hand them two beers.
"Here, have one. They're nice and cold." They'd always respond like giddy schoolgirls, like they were doing something naughty as they sipped delicately at their bottle.
One year, with complete and utter abandon, they had two beers. It was as if the world had come to an end.
"Shall we have another?" "I don't know, are you?" "Oh MY! Should we?" "I don't know! Do you think we should?"
So we got them two more beers and they were so shocked, they were speechless at the sinfulness of it: TWO BEERS!
My Nana finally stammered out, "Mercy!"
That was her word, "mercy", for whenever something was so mind-boggling, she couldn't wrap her head around it.
They were awfully cute.
And I miss them. I miss them most at Christmas time.
I wish you were here, Mom and Nana. I wish you could see how your family has grown. I wish you could see the new little ones, how you'd love them, how much you both loved babies. How you'd hold baby Sara and bring out her gorgeous smiles and coos. How you'd love seeing Lucy dancing about on her sturdy little legs, laughing.
How I miss you both.
Merry Christmas, wherever you are.
I wish I could say, "She's Comin' Home this Christmas Day".