Dennis and I play a four-hand, one-piano duet of the classic “Sleigh Ride” every Christmas. The tradition began many years ago when we were to perform at a ladies’ Christmas luncheon. We weren’t really great then (even after a lot of practice) but we’re really not good now playing it only once a year for whoever will listen. (Usually that’s a captive audience of friends or family who will nod pleasantly without judging.)
Anyway, this song “Sleigh Ride” written by the late great Leroy Anderson and popularized by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops is a true holiday classic. The song was first written just as an instrumental piece. Two years later Mitchell Parish wrote lyrics. Part of the last verse says,
It’ll nearly be like a picture print
By Currier and Ives
These wonderful things are the things
We remember all through our lives.
I don’t know about you but part of my Bimini chase is yearning for the perfect Christmas. One day a year (well, two, if you add Christmas Eve) I wanted these things:
Snow, optional but preferable
A tall, fresh cut evergreen adored with nostalgia and sparkle
Wide-eye children in footie PJ’s creeping down the stairs to mounds of toys
A roaring fire in the fireplace and the scent of cinnamon rolls baking in the kitchen
Turkey, succulent with homemade cornbread dressing
A dinner table that would make Martha Stewart jealous
And love – oozing from every family member to the next.
I wanted the Currier and Ives picture print Christmas.
But the Currier and Ives illusion of Christmas is just that – an illusion. Actually it was an afterthought. Here’s some surprising trivia:
Currier and Ives, the two lithographers who lived in the mid-1800’s, made their living on drawing, printing and selling pictures of disaster scenes and much later printed idyllic Christmas card scenes. Go figure.
Anyhow, when my children were young I knew that I had “x” number of years to fabricate that ideal holiday scene and usually it went somewhat as planned. But never just perfect. So as I was taking the decorations down for the season, I was analyzing what I had done wrong this year and planning for the next.
The wonder of Christmas, however, started to wane one year when my mother got sick and was in the hospital in another state. I really needed to be there for her major surgery, which was scheduled for five days before Christmas. I caught a flight and made it down there to be with her a few hours before she was sedated. But because of the nature of the surgery and her recovery I couldn’t just hop a flight back the next day. The magical holiday was quickly approaching and I didn’t know what to do. It was obvious I’d be there until at least Christmas Eve.
Dearest Dennis threw Santa’s gifts in the trunk and covered them with luggage as best he could. And my family, God bless them, drove 400 miles to Florida so we could be together. It didn’t hurt so badly, I thought, to go without my plan. But it sure wasn’t right.
I think it was then that my journey took a slight turn– to realize that just because something isn’t perfect doesn’t mean that it’s not good.