to all my neighbors, you got much flavor
i get super excited about the holidays. i've learned to like giving gifts (thanks to my kids), still love getting gifts, and get into decorating the home for whichever festive season is forthcoming. my mother-in-law once stressed to sonja and i that we should decorate our home in the appropriate (as opposed to inappropriate?) holiday trimmings in an effort to create a warm and positive vibe around the house that the kids will remember and pass on to their own families. sometimes i slip up on the 4th of july and st. patrick's day, but am usually good for halloween and thanksgiving and christmas. (i mean come on - hang a flag, wear something green so you don't get pinched. won't that suffice?)
my parents had traditions for christmas. we hung bubble lights on our real tree, that we bought at "the pier". we each had our own stocking (and later, when the santa thing was out of the bag, bought for each other). my sister and i met in my parents' room on christmas morning and waited for my dad to get the video camera going and the shop light in position, then blasted down the stairs and around the corner to get the loot. we baked a christmas tree with a can of rolls on a cookie sheet, and covered it with frosting and oodles of sprinkles. we even had a garbage sack gift, alternating each year between me & my sister. it was the first gift opened, and then all of the wrapping paper went right in that bag (per my dad's neat freak request).
on the heels of all that detailed reminiscing, i'll save you the long version of what we do at our crib. saturday we bought a tree. we always get a real one, always as a family, always from flowerama, and usually with all of us wearing santa hats. the boys always ride in the back seat of the mazda wagon with the tree on the way home. we set it up, string it with a couple strands of lights, hang a special ornament at the trunk of the tree, put our dog angel on top, turn on the christmas tunes, and proceed to deck it out with a boatload of ornaments. we give the boys new ones each year (a tradition from both sides of our families). this season we gave kale a soccer ornament and simon a basketball ornament. last year was rey mysterio and shawn michaels. i've got a mark mcgwire ornament from when i was a kid. our tree is a bit jacked up. personalized, you could say...
at any rate... i was in a cool quartet during undergrad. real time workshop. saxophone, accordion, double bass, and drumset. we played original stuff and interesting standards. we found our niche. we had a following. we pushed a record. and we played the same tune for the end of our shows. our tradition was to always close with mo' better blues. i would introduce the band while we played it out. we looked forward to it every time, and i think the audience expected it too. that tune signaled the end of the night - it was our tradition. in retrospect, i think that idea has a lot of musical value. so many groups get hung up on doing all new stuff, shaking it up for the listener for fear of boring them or becoming unpredictable. bird and trane played a handful of the same licks over and over again in a bunch of their solos, and experts claim that they were codifying their own jazz vernacular. i saw pat metheny several years back, and he opened with bright size life. did he anticipate that the audience was wanting to hear that (because i sure was)?
i want to help shake the stigma that playing the same tunes equals a lack of creative sensibility. it could offer a point of reference for the listener, some continuity to the sets, and create a performance tradition. it doesn't mean your lame. it just means your establishing a foundation.
now excuse me while i go hang up my ups airfreight ornament...