Unfortunately this is going to be a short installment today as time has defeated me from writing a longer entry. But after a selection of British and Irish songs and tunes over the weekend I thought something a little more lighthearted might be appreciated. Interestingly though it never mentions the word Christmas Winter Wonderland has always been considered a Christmas song. And with over 200 versions of it, one of the most popular songs as well.
Winter Wonderland is one of those classic slice of life songs written in the 1930’s. Simpler times when amusement at this time of year, or indeed throughout the year for children was all based around being outside. The baseball playing and swimming you did in the spring and summer transitioned to sledding and playing in the snow come winter time. Though in truth this was done throughout the winter, there was nothing quite as exciting as the first snow of the year, which for us was usually in December and part of our Christmas memories, whereas for my wife, who is from upstate NY, snow would be around since Halloween. Like most people my age I grew up spending my childhood years like that. When it came to wintertime, I remember dragging the old flexible flyer sleigh up to the golf course in town and sledding down the hills. Or making snowmen and adorning them with rocks for eyes usually, and incurring the wrath of our mothers by wrapping our scarves and hats around them.
If the snow was especially high. the snow shoveled from the driveway would be thrown off to the side, and we would dig snow tunnels, or glorified igloos, usually with a window carved out. Of course they only ever lasted a day or so, so we found other pursuits to engage in. Smacking icicles dangling from overhangs on houses with a stick so we could reach them and then eating them like an ice cream cone despite the temperature. Or of course the simple joy of a snowball fight with friends or family (and maybe the occasional neighbor you didn’t care for). I remember for a few years there was a tiny pond nearby that would freeze over sometimes and people would walk down the snowy streets with skates slung over their shoulders and those old styles of thermoses, with the screw off mug top that you were somehow able to manage removing despite the fact that you had those dratted mittens on. A lot of good memories and this song always helps me relive those memories, the same way photos like the one above do.
These days, after a big snowfall, I am still impressed that those ‘winter wonderland’s’ still stay in our hearts, and we still do things like going skating or sledding, throwing snowballs, or making snowmen. It has never vanished from the old days, which is a good thing. Kind of like good music, which will never go away, and Aretha Franklin has provided some of the best music throughout her long career. Out of all the versions I have ever heard of Winter Wonderland, hers has staying power and it is really down to how she says the word “groove” by the fire. Gets me every time! It has not snowed here in New York City yet, but I am hoping for some before Christmas, so I can really get in the spirit of this song again, but if Aretha says to groove by the fire, so help me I will.
Winter Wonderland-Written by Felix Bernard & Richard B Smith
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