Picture an old man with hair as white as snow. No, I’m not talking about Santa Claus, but my grandfather, Moe. If you ask me, he was better than Santa—jolly, happy and full of cheer all year round. (Plus, he loved cookies.) Every December you could catch him outside putting up Christmas decorations for the whole neighborhood. He loved seeing the looks of awe on children’s faces as they watched inflatable Santa and his reindeer soar over the roof of my house. When he wasn’t decorating, he was at the local homeless shelter giving gifts to the children and singing Christmas carols.
This only describes a fraction of the work he did in preparation for his favorite day of the year. There was never a dull moment at Christmastime when my grandfather was around.
In 2016, I was at Urban Outfitters and spotted a vinyl of Michael Bublé’s Christmas album and knew I had to get it for my grandfather. Since he had recently purchased a record player, I figured this would be the perfect gift. He was usually the one to do the gift giving but not this time.
“I have a present for you,” I said with a gallant smile.
“I don’t need anything, Casey. I already have everything I need right here,” he said as he pointed to me.
“Just open it please.”
“Fine, but only because you gave it to me.”
He took out the record and slowly walked over to the record player and put it on.
“This is awesome, babe. Hopefully it has ‘Rudolph’ on it.”
From that day forward, we spent hours every night listening to Bublé’s holiday record while we sat by the fireplace and enjoyed cups of hot chocolate and sugar cookies. He was particularly excited because this was the first vinyl he now had for his record player. His favorite song was “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” and mine was “Silver Bells.” Bublé’s voice had been one of my favorites for a while, and my grandfather enjoyed anything I liked, so it was a special bonding moment for us.
The new tradition we hoped to start was cut short when he passed away at the age of 77 from Parkinson’s Disease on Thanksgiving the following year. I didn’t know how to grieve. I could not fathom that my grandfather was no longer around, and that I wouldn’t have another Christmas with him. This was my first Christmas without him. It didn’t feel like Christmas because he was the spirit of the season in my eyes. No matter how many Hallmark movies and sugar cookies I ate, nothing helped to bring back his jolly spirit that I missed so much. I decided to listen to Bublé’s album, and it just clicked. I felt my grandfather’s warmth and spirit right beside me like it was just a year ago.
I learned many lessons from him during his time on earth, but the most valuable was to do what makes you happy. It sounds easy, but it’s quite difficult to not let the judgment from others impact how you live your life.
I’ve found that listening to Bublé makes me happy and allows me to feel connected to my grandfather in a way that is special and unique to just us. Since that is what he wanted for me, I have no problem listening to heartwarming holiday sounds all year round.
Regardless of the time of year, I have Bublé’s Christmas record on repeat. My roommate asks me why I play Christmas songs all the time, but it is not just because I like them. I play them because they remind me of some of the happiest memories I have, and to just experience those feelings again, even if only for a split second, makes it all worth it.
During the holidays, there seems to be the notion that you must be happy all of the time. While the season is typically known to be merry and bright, it’s OK to feel sad. Christmas music brings me joy and allows me to grieve all at once.
I like to tell myself that my tears are a form of appreciation for having had such a wonderful and influential figure in my life. While it might not look like that from the outside, I’m grateful to have had someone in my life who made me feel so loved and cared for everyday. I’m even more thankful to Bublé for making a holiday album that my grandfather and I were able to share together that helps keep him alive in my memory and heart.
It is not unusual to spend the holidays with your loved ones, and for me, while my grandfather might not physically be here, he is with me whenever I listen to Bublé’s Christmas album, and that’s all I want for Christmas.
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