My earliest Christmas memory is 1985. I was six years old, still believed in Santa Claus, and like my older sister, I was on the receiving end of plenty of gifts that I never would’ve thought to ask for.
This particular Christmas, I had asked for a cassette of Soul Kiss, of all things. I had seen a video on HBO of a song from the album, and somehow my parents were able to figure out how to get that specific tape, which I hadn’t asked for by title. So it was in my stocking. No big deal.
Then my Dad did something strange. He insisted my sister and I go back to our rooms and get dressed for the day. We were annoyed, as Christmas means pajamas until church, but after getting gifts, you don’t want to seem ungrateful.
I heard my sister scream first, all the way from her room on the top of the stairs. Somewhere along the way, Dad had sneaked into her room and set up a television. I ran up and screamed along with her, probably thinking that now we could watch TV in there together. I doubt that’s what she was thinking.
So I go and get dressed, and come back out into the living room. Everybody’s staring at me with anticipation. I’m flummoxed. “Did you see what was in your room?” I went back in. Somehow I’d missed a brand new stereo system that was right on the nightstand. Two tape decks and a record player. What could be better?
Looking back at that Christmas, I realize how those two gifts shaped the interests of my sister and me. She remains a steadfast television buff, and still watches it in her bedroom all of the time. For me, two trademarks of my personality were firmly established: my love for listening to music, and my complete obliviousness to my surroundings.
What are your Christmas morning music memories?
The first Christmas I can remember vividly was in 1977, when I was seven. I had gotten this elaborate Tyco race car track, with loops and curves built in, and I was playing with this constantly over the next three years. A memory like that tends to stand out, from a time when we really were worried on more common problems than all the horrors we’re faced with today.
I’ve always been a big Denver Broncos fan and one year when I was little I wrote a letter to Santa asking for a bunch of Broncos stuff. The local newspaper would choose some of the letters to Santa and print them throughout the weeks leading up to Christmas. An old lady who knew my dad recognized my name and gave my dad two autographed pictures of John Elway to give to me. She wanted him to tell me they were from Santa, but he thought it was too good a story not to tell me the truth.
Music played a big part of my Christmases from the time I got the John Denver and the Muppets album forward. The most memorable Christmas for me though was the year our cousin told us in advance that we were getting cross-country skis the day before. I don’t use the word gutted much, but having that surprise ruined really gutted me. I love surprises, and even though the skis are long gone, the memory remains.
I do remember my folks talking in the front seat of the car about albums they had bought for me when they thought I was asleep in the back seat during a road trip. I got Chaka Khan that year, among a few others.
Best Christmas memory was getting my first guitar along with John Denver’s Farewell Andromeda and Aerie albums from Mum and Da and getting the tab books for all his albums from my grandparents. I outgrew the half size guitar in a few years and saved to buy a Guild twelve string, which my Grandparents bough me for my 13th birthday.