Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Don We Now Our Gay Apparel

It's the season to bring out your favorite holiday music. Do certain
songs conjure a special memory from your childhood? One moment
forever frozen in my mind is, as an eight year old, sitting on the
sofa in the dark of a December evening in 1964, mesmerized by the
glittering live tree, complete with those wonderful big bulbed lights
and streams of long crinkly silver tinsel. On the radio, Bing Crosby
was singing Silver Bells, scooping up lots of that baritone with each
b-e-l-l-l-l-l-s. It was a magical, goose bumpy, childhood memory I
will never forget. The scene fondly pops into my mind every time
I hear the song.

Then there are the silly twists on songs. One from my childhood is
our version of "may your days be Mary and Bright", which was
incredibly funny because we have a great uncle named Bright (a
family name) and his daughter's name was Mary. We would then
sing, "and may all your Christmases be Luella and Joe", the names
of my great aunt and their son. Well, okay, maybe you have to be
part of the family to get the hilariousness of this one. I can also
remember my youngest sister singing her own little version of
Hark the Herald Angels, "with the jelly toast proclaim, Christ is
born in Bethlehem", complete with her own grape jelly mustache.
Back in his college days, WT made a Christmas album which
included the song Home for the Holidays. The big joke here is the
line "if you want 'Tubby Happy' in a millions ways, for the holidays
you can't beat home sweet home". No pun intended, since none of
us at the Manor eat too much during the holidays. Not us.

Years ago, WT had a business associate named Kahled. I don't know
exactly how this came about, but we filled his name into the words of
Handel's Messiah, "and his name shall be Kah-led". Kahled? If he
only knew how his name gave us chuckles every time we heard this
majestic bit of Handel. And of course, the kids could never sing or
even hear, for that matter, "don we now our gay apparel" without
bursting out laughing.

(Yes, the picture is a bronze statue of Lenin. WT brought it back
from one of his trips to Russia and did actually see Lenin's body in
Red Square, a strange experience. Our Mr. Lenin wears a holiday
hat every year as part of his gay apparel. Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la! )
Right now, I happen to be listening to this Christmas album by the
mezzo-soprano Anne Sophie von Otter, one of my oh-so-classy
holiday favorites.


  1. Wonderful, witty post, Willow! My favourite play on a carol is "As shepherds washed their socks at night"...

  2. BPG--Oh, that is too cute. I love that one! :D

  3. Must get in the spirit...still have gourds outside. Hmmm...the Christmas cds are where?

  4. Anne Sophie von Otter? Is that for real or a take on Anne Sophie Muttr the violinist?
    When the children were little, in the stone age, it was "we three kings of Trafalga square, selling la-a-dies u-underwear, how fantastic no ela-astic, seven and six a pair. In those days we of course still had Imperial currency!

  5. In no particular order my holiday season songs include a few old favourites and some contemporary ones.

    El Condor Pasa - by Inti Illimani (although I do like the one versioned by Simon and Garfunkel)

    The Audreys -Oh Honey

    Hallelujah - by Leonard Cohen (but I love the Rufus Wainwright version to bits!)

    Como Fue - by Benny More (Cuban finest singer ever!)

    The Beatles - Because (there's a very sad story behind that song which I won't go into now because I will end up soaking my keyboard)

    Calice - by Chico Buarque de Holanda

    Metamorphosis Four - by Philip Glass

    Swan Lake - by Tchaikovsky (yes, all of it, it's my favourite ballet ever)

    Anything by Cesaria Evora - one of the better voices from Cabo Verde

    And by listing these songs in my response to your post, dear willow, I am giving you a sneak preview of what to expect from this Sunday onwards now that autumn's over and it's time for the grey and white chapeau to drape us all in its bear hug.

    Ahhh, before I forget! I love that picture of Lenin! If only...

    Greetings from London.

  6. Arija--Okay, I'm going to be singing the Trafalgar Square version all day today!

  7. And don't forget that wonderful cool crisp smell of the live Christmas tree as it was plopped into place in that bucket of sand...oh, the memories...especially the jelly-toast mustache...HA!

    Now to don my gay, hat and's coming your way...with the snows coming down, all I can think of is Berlioz-La Damnation de Faust--scene of hell fall...:o(

  8. Sweet Repose--send it forth!! I am garbed with my gay apparel awaiting the Berlioz.

  9. White Christmas has to be the one for me and Silver Bells next.

  10. Mr. Cuban--Oh, what a delicious sampling of coming Sunday mornings!

    "autumn's over and it's time for the grey and white chapeau to drape us all in its bear hug"

    I love that.

  11. I've always really loved O' Holy Night. And, I just <3 Mr. Crosby. =)

  12. One of my favorite childhood memories is of my dad coming home from his veterinary clinic, (after he went in early to medicate and feed, and clean kennels), on December mornings with his arms loaded with wrapped presents that he would carry to the living room and place under the tree. While he made his way through the utility room through the kitchen and to the living room, he would sing "Jingle Bells" and we, (my brother and I), would be jumping up and down in glee, pawing at him, etc... One morning, after he'd heard the song, "Grandma got run over by a reindeer" on the radio, he came in singing that instead. We all busted up.

  13. Now we have to find you Marx. The manor looks heavenly!

  14. Do you know something, Willow - when I saw the photo I thought 'that looks like Lenin' - I was amazed when it actually turned out to be him. Of all the things to have! You are an original alright.

  15. Favorite Christmas song is one my brother sang ( two years old), recorded it, while I was being born- "Jingle all the way, what fun it is to ride, in a horsies open leg."
    Fun post- love the christmas Lenin!

  16. So....if you want Tubby Happy...just don your gay apparel while eating jelly toast and singing Silver Bells! :) So very funny as I'm all alone here laughing out loud!

    One of my favorite memories is you and me quietly listening for Santa's sleigh bells on Christmas Eve and I could ACTUALLY hear them! It was so amazing!...only to find out years later that it was YOU jinging some little bells and tricking your poor little sister!!

  17. For me, in Winter Wonderland, it was always, "in the winter we can build a snowman, we'll pretend that he is Parse and Brown". I really never understood how a snowman could be brown. I found it most unappealing.

    Trouble is, I still sort of hear the song that way! Sigh.

    Now days my favorite Christmas song is Come O Come Emmanuel. Lovely.

  18. So many possibilities for merriment.

    "While shepherds washed their socks by night
    All seated on the ground
    A bar of Sunlight soap came down
    And glory shone around....."

    A season to have fun and to let the Lord of Misrule have his day....
    Now I notice Blog Princess G has pipped me to the post.
    Must be all these childhood ideas swilling around.

  19. Another take on Arija's ditty

    We Three kings of Trafalgar Square
    Selling knickers at tuppence a pair
    Loose elastic
    Most fantastic
    Most unsafe to wear

    ps for US readers 'knickers' are ladies underpants!

  20. Elizabeth--Oh, these are great! I just love these little ditties. And it looks like it's not just a Libra thing, either. :^)

  21. The Johnny Mathis Merry Christmas album (the one where Johnny is decked out in his ski duds) instantly takes me back to childhood. His joyous rendition of "Winter Wonderland" is a nostalgic plunge for me. When I'm in a serious mood, I love "O Holy Night." Bing Crosby too, of course. And the Charlie Brown Xmas album.

    BTW, "Don We Now Our Gay Apparel" has never been used to such fine effect.

  22. Willow, What a wonderful musical romp! Bravo! You had me sitting here laughing out loud! My heart is totally with Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen and I agree Rufus Wainwright brings it home!

  23. Willow,
    I think you should record an album of Christmas favorites with your lyrics. It would sell like hotcakes.

  24. Willow,
    A fun post! Needless to say, these twists on words are definitely the ultimate jester's jabs creating loads of laughs!! Ahh, the festiveness of it all.
    The Bach

  25. My favourite holiday music:

    No. 1 the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas with the Vince Guaraldi

    No 2. Very traditional carols sung, or played in a very traditional way (no reggae or country & western carol covers for this gal).

    I've caught myself lately humming Walking in a Winter Wonderland.

    xo, S.

  26. The song that sticks in my mind from childhood in the deep South is Bing Crosby singing "Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say on a bright Hawaiian Christmas day"

    My favorite carol is O Holy Night. The instrumental version by Mannheim Steamroller can make me cry.

  27. I loved this, Willow!

    I remember when I was a pre-teen, getting all dressed up on Christmas Eve to go to Midnight Mass. "High Society" was on television and Bing (love his Baritone, as you say) was singing to Grace Kelly. She was sooo beautiful and it was a wonderful scene -- even for a young girl. It associate Christmas with that every year. It turns out, that my parents' song is "True Love" from that movie.


    P.S. I also love the song, "One More Sleep 'Til Christmas" from The Muppet Christmas Carol.

  28. Silver bells was my mother's favorite Christmas song - she never wore yellow gold jewelry, only silver or white gold. To this day I always notice if people wear gold or silver jewelry.

    Yes, sitting on the sofa looking up at that huge tree! My father would put C9 bulbs on the trees in our house. Those are only used these days for outdoor trees! They were huge and you could literally read a book by them.

    I recall throwing (I mean putting!) the silver tinsel on the tree and I was always quite mesmerized by it all.

    Great post - as always! Take care.

  29. One of my nephews use to sing.."and Kevin and nature sings" to the tune of Joy to the world.

  30. My favorite Christmas song that brings me right back to childhood is on old diddy from Mitch Miller and his band of merry singers...Must be Santa. I burned a copy for my sister and she giggled with excitement.

  31. I'm crazy for the shiny brights on your sidebar!

  32. Round John Virgin, mother and child.... Silent Night.... Kids sing 'em like they hear 'em. Pappy

  33. Love your post and your family oriented carols. My favorites:
    As a child, Suzie Snowflake. My all time favorites are the Coventry Carol and When Fowers Bloom Amid The Snow, and a new favorite is Sarah McLachlan's beautiful What Child Is This? from her CD, Wintersong.

  34. Great post with family memories of Christmas. An easy way to get into the mood of the coming holidays. Thanks, Willow.

  35. My father always used to say his favorite part of Christmas was going to the children's Christmas pageant at school and hearing the sweet little children singing about the "round young virgin".

  36. I just love to see Lenin in his gay apparel! Lol! Very cool indeed.

  37. Willow,j'écrirai ce message en français sinon il me faudrait des heures pour le traduire en anglais.mais je pense que vous comprendrez.
    Le 24 décembre au soir nous descendions en file indienne et au son du chant "les anges dans nos campagnes"( mes deux frères et mes deux soeurs et moi) avec chacun une bougie plantée dans un marron, les escaliers qui menaient au petit salon où nous avions confectionné la crêche. Là, ma mère et mon père nous attendaient, nous déposions alors les bougies près du petit lit de paille vide où ma mère déposait à minuit le petit Jésus que nous découvrions le lendemain matin ainsi que les cadeaux près du sapin illuminé de bougies allumées par mon père.

    Je n'arrivai pas à écrire ce message en anglais, Noël est pour moi toujours un peu triste.

  38. MTA--Cela est une belle mémoire de Noël. J'aime la belle idée des bougies dans les coquilles de noix. Nous avons eu une série de naissance que nos enfants toujours apprécieraient, aussi. Ils ont aimé mimer la pièce de Marie sur l'âne avec Joseph en route à Bethléem.

    Je n'ai pas des objections si vous partez vos commentaires en français. Je peux les traduire facilement. :^)

  39. Hmmm, something tells me that Lenin would not approve.

  40. Do you know the words to Round Young Virgins?


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  42. It's got to the the sweet, soft jazz of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Most preferably in the quiet early morning when it's still dark outside, Christmas tree lights twinkling and coffee perking. Instant peace. Even if just for a while, all's right with the world.

  43. There's another album called Home for Christmas. It's by BarlowGirl.

  44. very good,thanks very much!
    (Oil painting , Acrylic painting, Modern painting, Abstract painting , Landscape painting, Impression painting , Decoration painting )


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)