This afternoon I was baking molasses cookies for our neighborhood cookie exchange (I chose molasses cookies because I had 3/4 jar of molasses from the rice-crispy gingerbread house the kids made with Aunt Lena earlier in the month. If I didn't use if "now," chances are I would find it in the pantry two years from now and throw it out then) when on the radio came the classic "Blue Christmas" by Elvis.
In a flash I was transported back to the mid-seventies, to Nonnie's living room in the light of the multi-colored aluminum tree. My two cousins and I, making a name for ourselves as the rock band "The Family Three" (remember, this was when we were knee deep in the pop culture of The Partridge Family and, as a cheap knock off, The Brady Bunch [when they tried to sing]), would perform for the hoards of relatives that was "our family."
Coming from a big extended Italian family, there were always tons of people around my grandmother's house, and we kids would entertain them with various renditions of Christmas songs such as "Jingle Bells" (The Partridge Family version), "Blue Christmas" (Jeannie, Rosanne and I would sit in a circle and each sing a word round-robin style, practicing until we could sing it smoothly and flawlessly), "O Come All Ye Faithful" (Jeannie and I would sing in English, and Ro in Latin), and we'd finish off our set with a rousing "We Wish You A Merry Christmas!"
Jeannie was six-months-to-the-day younger than I was, and Ro was three years younger, and these two cousins were a very important and special part of my childhood. We still enjoy singing the old Family Three songs when we have a chance to spend time together. Our repertoire back then, as now, also includes a couple of original compositions such as "Pass the Sugar" and "The Nonnie Song."
So here's to aluminum Christmas trees, big families and Jeannie and Rosanne. They all made my childhood Christmas' very memorable!