It was a glorious Christmas with my family again this year. I enjoyed the gifts and I must say I enjoyed the giving even more.
In recent years we’ve been making CD mixes for our family members to go along with whatever else we send them; gift cards, barbecue sauce, wine or whatever.
We always talk by phone on Christmas day if we’re not together and it’s interesting how people react to the CDs. They barely mention the other gifts and you can hear the enthusiasm in their voice when they thank us for the music.
I think that’s because they realize we went the extra mile and actually made something for them that took some time and is unique. The intrinsic value is much higher than say, a $10 gift card to McDonald’s.
We will continue the tradition in coming years with various music genres.
Last year’s was kind of all over the map, but this year we focused on rhythm and blues. We called the CD Missouri Soul. That may sound like a joke to some, but remember, R&B flourished in the St. Louis area in the 1960s with Ike and Tina Turner and smaller bands like the Oliver Sain Revue.
So it was hard to miss with a CD that features James Brown, Ray Charles, Bill Withers, Al Green, Roberta Flack, Smokey Robinson, the Isley Brothers and the O’Jays.
Next year we’ll feature jazz and the year after that, maybe country.
Giving the CDs also reminds of when I was young in the early 1960s and my dad was between jobs. There wasn’t a lot of money in the house at Christmas time and so dad decided to make a gift for his brothers’ families.
He simply took an old galvanized metal coal carrier, the small ones that were once used to bring a bucket-sized amount of coal over to the furnace.
He put a brown stain on them and then an Americana-style decal of an eagle on the side.
He designed them to be wood holders for the fireplaces my uncles used during our holiday gatherings.
With everyone else getting expensive sweaters and gee-gaws from each other, the one thing that stood out that Christmas Day was the wood holders my Dad had made.
Every member of the family admired the craftsmanship in them, although really, there wasn’t that much.
But the fact that my dad had made them gave an emotional component to the gifts that made them stand out.
There’s just something about making a present for a relative that can’t be forgotten.
Those wood holders were still sitting next to my uncles’ hearths and used for years thereafter.
I imagine my relatives will be listening to their new CDs for years too.