What Christmas Means To Me

I was flat broke ten Christmastimes ago. I brought my entire cd/dvd collection to an independently owned store that often accepted these items for cash or store credit. I walked in with two filled plastic grocery market bags and got in the line for the cashier. I was in a bad mood because I did not want to part with my collection and I was broke at the worst time of the year. I was the last person in line from the time I joined it until the time I was next. All of a sudden, a lady partially obstructed my path to the cashier. She was holding some merchandise. I did not know if her intention was to cut in front of me or just ask a question. I got upset but remained silent. As the customer at the cashier’s counter received his receipt, I made sure to hurry around the lady and put my bags up on the counter. The cashier informed me that the store was not currently giving cash or store credit for used items. I was crushed because this was my last shot at having spending money for the rest of the year. I lifted my bags off the counter and left. As I headed toward the bus stop, a lady’s voice called out to me from behind. I turned around and saw the lady who had partially obstructed my path to the cashier. She gave me $100 cash and said, “Merry Christmas!” I was shocked. I told her that I could not accept it. She just smiled and walked back toward the store. I told her, “God bless you.” Christmastime is very special. It brings out the best in the people who celebrate it. Stevie Wonder’s What Christmas Means To Me (1967) elaborates on these points. It is a wonderful song that is worthy of its own subject.

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At Last

Del Amo Fashion Center (Torrance, California) is one of the largest shopping malls in the United States. It was actually the largest one from 1981 to 1992. In the late 1980s, my paternal grandmother offered to go here with her grandchildren and buy us one toy each. I was around 10 or 12. My two sisters and two cousins were almost as excited as I was. Toys were sacred to me as a child. I used to wait to open them and stare at their unopened packages just to savor the moments. As huge as this mall was, there were only two toy stores. They were at opposite ends of the mall. My parents decided to drop all of us off at one end and pick us up at the other end. This way we could hit both toy stores and get some good exercise. When we got to the first toy store, I found the toy I wanted. It was a Freddy Krueger figurine from the A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise. I brought it to my grandmother. She refused to buy it because she felt that it would probably be cheaper at the other toy store. We soon left the first toy store and walked all the way to the second one. Of course, this second toy store did not carry the item. When I told her that the Freddy Krueger figurine was the only toy I wanted, she looked me straight in the eye and said, “You certainly don’t expect me to walk all the way back there, do you?” I was furious. I was the only grandchild who did not go home with a toy. I am ashamed to admit that I still get angry whenever the memory pops up. My parents purchased the figurine for me about two weeks later and my grandmother reimbursed them. She reached 86 and passed away in 2004. One of her favorite songs was At Last (1960) by Etta James. It is also one of mine.

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You Talk Too Much

My older sister was a freshman at UCI in the fall of 1992. My parents wanted her to experience life in a university dormitory and avoid a one hour commute. The rest of us frequently visited her on weekends. On one such occasion, she was in tears. I listened as she told our mother about a student named Mickey. He was a nice guy who also lived in her dormitory. Mickey always had his left hand in the corresponding pocket of his pants. She had just asked him why this was so in front of a group of students in a lounge. He removed his hand from his pocket and showed everyone that it was deformed. You Talk Too Much (1985), by Run-D.M.C., is a song that most of us should hear on a regular basis. It reminds us of how dangerous the mouth can be. Sometimes we need to tell ourselves to be quiet. Sometimes we need to tell ourselves to shut up.

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Can You Read My Mind

I was in the fourth grade during the 1986-1987 school year. A “booty bop” transpired whenever a boy ran, jumped, and used his backside to propel an unsuspecting boy forward. Fourth grade boys had to constantly be on guard outside of the classroom. My friend, Brian, approached me one day after school and suggested that we booty bop each other at the same time. It would be like a joust and the loser would be the one who was propelled farther from the midpoint. It sounded like fun so I agreed. We both took our starting positions. All of a sudden, I thought of how funny it would be if I crouched down right before the planned collision and Brian flew over me and landed on his butt. We both began to run. I decided to do it.

My timing was perfect and Brian’s back landed on the pavement. I started to laugh hysterically and got up. Brian was silent for a few seconds. He stated, “You could have hurt me!” He slowly got up. I kept laughing and distanced myself out of fear. He ended up punching me in my left shoulder a few times. I would refer back to this incident whenever I needed a good laugh for years later. I would picture him dressed like Superman and in slow motion as he ran, jumped, flew, and hit the ground. It took me a long time to realize that what I had done could have paralyzed or killed Brian. I thank God that Brian was alright. I was just reminded of this ordeal after listening to Maureen McGovern’s beautiful Can You Read My Mind (the love theme from the 1978 movie Superman). Laughter is not the best medicine when it is toxic.

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Happy Birthday, Brother Brian!

In honor of Brian Wilson’s 76th birthday, I have decided to share my slice of German chocolate cake with the rest of you (do not worry because there is enough for everybody).

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Choice Of Colors

You cannot fight prejudice with prejudice. Prejudice is ignorance. You fight ignorance with education. Nearly all of us harbor some forms of prejudice. We must identify these forms before we can eradicate them. Such ignorance is not bliss. It prevents us from reaching our potential as citizens, loved ones, and human beings. Get rid of it. Choice Of Colors (1969), by The Impressions, is a phenomenal catalyst. Curtis Mayfield (songwriter) addresses African Americans but his message applies to all. Digest it.

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Intimate Friends

Intimate Friends (1977), by Eddie Kendricks, describes a passionate friendship that is open to interpretation. Eddie could be singing about his relationship with one of multiple lovers. He might be singing about his relationship with someone who is not a lover. All I know is that he is detailing a relationship with someone who is not just a friend. The lyrics and title imply that there is a “friendship hierarchy.” Intimate friends are near the top. Listen to what he has to say. Draw your own conclusions.

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Mom Rap Parody

A true music lover enjoys the gems in all genres. I love rap songs with creative lyrics. I just came across a splendid sparkler on YouTube. It takes true talent to write great rap lyrics. I wish that more people with this talent would use their powers for good. Check out this YouTube video and see if it is not one of the most awesome parodies you have ever encountered–https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M02_L1wVmF4

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Still Water (Love)

A wedding will never be more important than the act of marriage. Over a hundred people may attend a wedding but most U.S. states require just one or two witnesses to be present. The cost and number of attendees do not dictate how special the ceremony is. A couple’s love does. Still Water (Love) (1970), by the Four Tops, reminds us that having love for someone else in our hearts is more important than proving it to the rest of the world. It’s short and sweet like a wedding should be.

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Cyndi Sang

Cyndi Lauper sang Girls Just Want To Have Fun, not Girls Just Want To Have Funerals.

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