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Friday, December 4, 2009

Merry Christmas, Darling

In 1970, I was a senior in high school full of romantic ideas, crazy about boys and one boy in particular. We had dated off and on for a year or so, but he was in college and understandably didn't want to settle down with a seventeen-year-old girl. That Christmas, as I was pining away for my true love, The Carpenters released a little number called "Merry Christmas, Darling" as a single. It fit my yearnings to a tee. I went to Kresge's and plunked down my hard-earned babysitting money for the record and put it on the console stereo. I don't think I removed it for two months...well past Christmas! Karen knew about my aching heart and sang about it in her clear, pure alto voice.



It wasn't until 1978 that The Carpenters came out with their "Christmas Portrait" album. By then I was happily married with a three-year-old and one on the way. There wasn't a lot of money to spare, but I had to have that album. So I saved a little here and a little there and bought it. I played that thing to death. I loved the way each song segued seamlessly into the next one. I sang along with Karen and knew every note and pause and breath. I loved that the very first thing you hear when it starts is Karen taking a breath. I loved that they included the little known first verses of several Christmas standards.

When the children (all three of them) were going to school, I would wake them every school day during the Christmas season by playing the album. It's one of Aimee's most loved memories of childhood...waking to "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear". 

When the CD came out, I retired the worn-out album (which I still have) and replaced it with the new technology. I still have the same one. I still play it to death every year. This year, I've uploaded the songs to my MP3-capable cell phone. It's the one Christmas album that I never get tired of.

Oh, you're probably wondering if I ever got together with that college boy. I did. And we've been married 37 years. You do the math.


50 comments:

CottageGirl said...

"I've just one wish on this Christmas Eve ... I wish I were with you. I wish I were with you...."
Oh -- I loved the Carpenters, but I think my rock band hubby actually loved them more! Karen had such a great voice.
Wonderful story about you and your hubby!!! Isn't it funny that you know even as young as you were ... you just know.
42 years ago this coming January 28, Tony and I had our first kiss. (Don't want to sound like a floozy, cause I wasn't, but I did like to kiss!) I had kissed a fair amount of guys before and after that kiss. But that first kiss with Tony is the only first kiss I still remember in detail!
Thanks for leading me down the old memory lane!

CottageGirl said...

PS!! Love your header! Lovely ornaments!

Alaine said...

Oh, isn't that wonderful, that you married him!!! When my daughter was expecting her first, she played The Carpenters over and over again - Ben has got the loveliest nature, everyone loves him!

Love your header too!

VioletSky said...

It's funny how you can not think of a song for years, but as soon as someone mentions it, the first words, the voice, a certain feeling deep inside, all flood you at once.

I don't have much Christmas music around, but I do still think of Andy Williams and The Carpenters as the epitome of Chrismas musical memories.

Susan said...

CG, sometimes you DO know! I had had other big crushes, some that my mom liked, but one in particular who she couldn't stand the sight of. Of course, for a long time, he was the one I HAD to have. Then David came along and she loved him. She told me that I had "better hang on to that one". I usually wanted to do the opposite of what she said, but I guess deep down I knew she was right. I'm so glad I trusted her advice. A better man could not exist. We had our first kiss 40 years ago this past June.

Thank you! I love my special ornaments! I could do a different header every week until January with them!

Susan said...

Alaine, how lovely that your daughter played Carpenters music for her son in utero! I think Karen had such a beautiful voice. There's a reason why their music has been played for decades. It's called talent. I wonder how many 70's weddings included "We've Only Just Begun" in their music? I know mine did!

Thank you!

Susan said...

Sanna, how true. Karen's voice always seemed so full of longing. It's a shame she had to go so soon. It would be interesting to see if her talent would have developed in a different direction had she lived.

I always loved Andy Williams Christmas specials the best! Did you know he just published his autobiography?

dutchbaby said...

This is a great Christmas story you tell. My son walked in the room when Karen Carpenter was on PBS the other day. She was on one of those oldie-moldie hit parade shows. He chose to sit down and watch the rest of the song with me. Her voice was so clear and pure, quite arresting really. I loved "Close To You". That line about the angels getting together always slayed me.

Loved learning about your hubby and you.

Fabulous header!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Ooooh! New header! Love it! That was such a sweet story Susan. I grew up with the Carpenters. I can remember my mom and I singing duet to their songs in the car on the way to somewhere (everywhere we went was always a long drive since we lived in the middle of nowhere). While my sister was in the back seat rolling her eyes. I love it when you share!

Susan said...

dutchbaby, Karen's voice was and still is captivating. A lot of people wrote off The Carpenters as nothing but bubble-gum pop, but they never really listened to her sing. I still have the "Close to You" album. My friend Jeanne gave it to me for Christmas that same year.

Thank you!

Susan said...

Thank you, Sandy! I love it, too! Every time I make a new one, it becomes my favorite.

Karen was so easy to sing along with. That's a nice memory to have with your mom. Too bad your sis didn't join in with some harmony of her own!

stacybuckeye said...

I love The Carpenters. although it's been years since I listened. I'm going to loo for this one when I'm out shopping with my mom tomorrow.
What a sweet story about your husband. So, you are 37? That the way I do math :)

Susan said...

Stacy, oh absolutely! That's the kind of math I like! It's nice to know there's someone else (wink,wink) out there in their 30's who appreciates the talent there.

Ruth said...

Two words for your header: GOR GEOUS.

We love the Carpenter's Christmas album at our house, I don't remember which version it is. This is a beautiful song, I agree.

That story of you and David is just too sweet. I went to a Carpenter's concert with a boy who wanted me forever, but alas I did not want him. His name is David too! :|

There are so many things to love about Christmas. Great post!

Susan said...

Ruthie, that must be some new-fangled dictionary you're using! Thanks, darlin'! As usual, I stole the idea from you, so you can take part of the credit.

I almost went to a Carpenter's concert once. I was at the Ohio State Fair in 1969 and they were the opening act for Mac Davis! Wasn't too long after that they made it big. I didn't have money to buy tickets, so had to listen from outside the arena. I was hooked from that moment on.

Well, I have to say, I'm glad your David didn't win your heart, and instead a really, really nice guy by the name of Don did. I think you chose wisely, as did I.

Kathleen said...

What wonderful memories. I love how music evokes memories for me and there are those certain songs that remind us of certain events. I love your story and glad you got the guy!! ;)

VaNeSsA said...

Sweet, Susan! I love how you told this story - for a second at the beginning I was hoping the boy turned out to be your husband, but then I got wrapped up in the story of the music, thinking about my favorite Christmas songs - then you hit us at the end with the reveal. Lovely. :)

Brenda said...

Just found your fun blog...and spent way to much time browsing! Love it!
AND I LOVE the Carpenters! I graduated in 1978 and sang "We've Only Just Begun" at our graduation ceremony. Funny...haven't heard this song for a long time, but when I played it I knew every word! OH...the memories!

Susan said...

Kathleen, you're so right! I relate almost everything to music. If I could pick my fantasy career, it would be as a cabaret singer. I love music in (almost)all shapes and forms.

I'm pretty glad I got the guy, too! ;)

Susan said...

Hi Vanessa! Haven't seen you around in a while. I'm sure you've been busy with your daughter and teaching. Thank you for your compliment! I like tidy endings, don't you?

Susan said...

Hello, Brenda! Thank you for coming by for a visit! And for the nice compliment! I've been to see your place and really like how we have some things in common. Glad you enjoyed reading!

Elle Bee said...

Oh, what memories the Carpenters music brought back! It's all my mom listened to. Well, that and Anne Murray, Christopher Cross and Niel Diamond! :o) But I always remember the Carpenters. I just love Karen Carpenter's voice.

Bella Rum said...

What a fun post this is. I loved the Carpenters too. I was a newlywed in 1970. Karen had such a beautiful and clear voice. Wonderful telling of this sweet memory. You really touched on how music plays such a role in our lives?

Susan said...

Elle, your mom and I must be about the same age! I'm a big Anne Murray and Neil Diamond fan, too! Love Christopher Cross as well.

Susan said...

Bella, so glad you enjoyed my reminiscing! I was a newlywed in '72, so, not far behind you. IMO, Karen's voice ranked right up there with Judy Collins for pure clarity. Thank you for your nice words. :)

Deborah said...

This was a lovely story, Susan - and I'm going to youtube 'Merry Christmas, Darling' right this minute. I haven't heard it for years!

So glad that boy stayed in your life.

Cindy said...

What a sweet story! You were such a young bride! What is it about songs evoking memories? Those teenage years seem to be clearer than most. Must be all the spare time we had to think and dream. I'm going to revisit The Carpenters music now.

Judy said...

Love Karen's voice, love that song, love your story!

JackeeG4glamorous said...

Love you new header!
I'll have to scour the stores to find that Christmas album. My husband shows his sensitive side often when he pines for Karen Carpenter's strong voice. I bought him the Greatest Hits CD a few years ago. It's funny that you mentioned saving your babysitting money to buy that record. Do kids even do that anymore? I babysat and saved for all my little extras (and some Big extras too!) I also bought all my own Christmas gifts every year with my babysitting money.
What a lovely idea,playing Christmas music in the morning for your kids. That'll get them in the mood!

Susan said...

Deborah, it's hard to escape hearing it 2 or 3 times a day here during the Christmas season! Two of our local radio stations start playing holiday music a week before Thanksgiving! So they repeat that one (and many others) a lot!

I'm so glad that boy stayed in my life, too, and that he turned into a very nice man.

Susan said...

Yes, Cindy, I was too young to know better, that's for sure! But luckily I chose the right one and it worked out very well! Not that we haven't had our ups and downs, what couple doesn't? But we decided we were in it for the long haul and that's what kept us going during the rough times.

Susan said...

Judy, it's been a revelation to find so many Karen Carpenter fans. It must be the age most of us are! Like most really talented singers, she stands the test of time.

Thank you!

Susan said...

Thank you, Jackee! It's now one of my favorite headers!

I used to pay for all my Christmas gifts with money I earned, too. Now we just hand the kid the credit card or the cash and drop them off at the mall. Not that there aren't kids out there who still do it the old-fashioned way!

The Carpenters actually had another Christmas album out that I had forgotten about. Richard released it in 1984 after Karen's death. I'm not sure why I never bought this one, but I'm going to see if I can get a copy of it.

Here's a wiki link about it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Old-Fashioned_Christmas

Ji said...

everlasting love, romantic memories, good for you and blessings for good!

Hope that people get inspired about your story and get the same happiness as well.

The Bumbles said...

Awwwwwww!

I must confess I totally fell for you marrying someone other than your high school sweet heart. Although I did wonder how your hubby felt about you pining away over this Carpenters album!

You don't want to know how old I was in 1970. But I can tell you that I remember Karen's X-Mas special performance that you linked to. Thanks for that.

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Such a sweet Christmas fairytale come true!

Susan said...

Ji, thank you for visiting. It would be nice if every woman could have a husband as loyal, honest and true as mine.

Susan said...

Molly, were you about three in 1970? Really, I have no idea...and I DO want to know!

I'm shocked that I surprised you! I thought I was being obvious. I must be better at that than I thought! lol

Susan said...

Thank you, Natashya, sometimes fairytales DO come true!

Yolanda said...

I have long been a fan of them. I thing she haad such a beautiful voice.

ds said...

I've had that song in my head for days now, thanks to you. She was such a sad person, and with a lovely voice. I love your story--may you have many more years together. Thanks for sharing.

Beautiful header, too!

Susan said...

Yolanda, thank you for visiting! You have a very lovely blog!

Susan said...

You're welcome, ds! I love putting "ear worms" in my friends' heads! That's what they call it in Germany, although I don't know the German translation for it. Now you'll forever have that term stuck in your head! :)

Karen had a lonely and sad life, never really finding a true love of her own. I've been very fortunate in that way.

Shattered said...

What nice memories to read about! Isn't funny how a song can evoke some of our most powerful memories?

Elle Bee said...

Just wanted to pop over to say good luck on your photo shoot today! I hope the tree doesn't fall over! :o)

Susan said...

Shattered, yes, songs play a big part of my memories...some wonderful and some sad.

Thank you for visiting my place.

Don said...

I agree about the Carpenters. I never get tired of listening to her sing. We were listening to music yesterday and that one was in the queue.

Happy 37 years for you and Big D!

Cora said...

A beautiful sweet story of love!

Susan said...

Don, you're a man of good taste!

Thank you, we celebrated our 37th in July, now working on 38!

Susan said...

Thank you, Cora! And it's still going on!