Ah yes….. its Christmas Eve. The big day is just around the corner. Part of me is all excited saying "what took it so long to get here?" the other side is saying "Wait a minute,,, wasn't Thanksgiving just yesterday???? Where did the time fly?????"
Christmas Eve was a big deal at my house when i was a kid. We lived in Northern New Jersey. Right across the river from NYC. Back then FM radio hadn't caught on, and there was no such thing as Internet or satellite radio ( in fact satellite wasn't even in the vocabulary) so everyone listened to AM radio. Now my mother was a true music fanatic. No, she didn't play an instrument, unless of course you consider the radio one. I remember that kitchen radio went on at 7AM when she got up and didn't go off till 11PM when she went to bed. Back then, except for school closing due to snow, the only station on our radio dial was WNEW, 1130 on your AM dial. This was where the music of one of America's greatest eras lived. Music from the 30's and 40's. The BIG band sound, the Swing place. Home of the crooners, balladeers, voices that are still the standard today.
BUT Thats not all…. WNEW had broken new ground since its inception. They were one of the first stations to have 'disc jockeys' that played records between shows, had they're own News Team, and still did live broadcasts from places like the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria. Remind me someday and i'll tell ya more, BUT today is Christmas Eve and I'm drifting back to Christmas Eves past.
Like everyday, that radio in our kitchen went on at 7am. Klavin and Finch yucked it up till 10. Then more music and stuff with Ted Brown. The hours seemed to stretch out to120 minutes long. I mean really, how much of this could a kid endure? Where was the Christmas Magic? Couldn't an hour be just 30 minutes? Maybe even 15? FINALY it was noon. Twelve o'clock high. It was officially Christmas Eve.
Now Christmas Season at my house started back on December 15. That was the day my father started setting up the Lionel Trains. This was no small oval. No sir. This layout had been growing since my father was a kid and got bigger every year. Of course living one town away from the Lionel Train Factory probably helped a little. As a kid, our dining room was huge. In reality it was about 8 feet by 12 feet. And it wasn't really a separate room, but more like a pass-through room. You had to go through the dining room to get to either the kitchen or the living room. We seldom ate in it since the kitchen table was closer to everything. But every December 15th most of the floor began getting covered with tracks, buildings, mountains, and Lionel trains. Yep!!! That was the start of the Christmas season.
BUT Christmas Eve was special. It was the start of the Christmas Celebration. And it all started at twelve o'clock high noon. That's when WNEW, 1130 on your AM Dial began playing Christmas Carols. Almost none stop for the next 36 glorious hours. Jingle Bells, Sleigh Ride, You Better Watch Out, Rudolph… AHHHH Christmas Eve…Sugar Cookies baking, Eggnog ready for sipping, and the great voices of a by gone era singing Christmas Carols on the radio. My mother and I singing along with Sinatra, Crosby, Sara and Ella, Eartha and her list to Santa. Life was good!!!!
And now it's 2012. Its Christmas Eve. WNEW has been gone for over 20 years. BUT the tradition of Christmas Carols has endured. This year, though, i didn't have to wait till today. Pandora Radio on the internet started the Carols a week before Thanksgiving. And try as i may i couldn't resist tuning in early. The music of Christmas has been filling the Frog & PenguINN every day. Sometimes jazz carols, sometimes swing carols, and sometimes (like now) classical carols. There are no sugar cookies baking today, Bread and more Chocolate Chips are scheduled for later. But i think i'll share the wonderful music of Christmas with the neighbors this afternoon by turning on the outside speakers. If you drive by, slow down and take a listen. You might even want to sing a verse as you head on.
Happy Christmas Eve…. Grenville (Wishing for a White Christmas)