Christmas Time Is Here - Khruangbin

from the Christmas Time Is Here b/w Christmas Time Is Here (Version Mary) (2018)

Many moons ago, I dated an Italian girl whose large and extended family lived throughout Brooklyn.  The only exception was her Uncle Henry, who lived in Greenwich Village.

Their Christmas Eve tradition was for everyone to gather at her mother's house for an Italian feast.  It was something to behold.  The Irish never put on a holiday shindig like this.

Every year was the same.  People would cheer when Cousin Joey returned from the fish market, where his friend Dominic from Flatbush hooked him up with a cooler full of squid.  There were never less than a dozen woman serving up their finest homemade Italian delicacies.  Andrea's stuffed shells.  Angela's shrimp fra diavolo.  Mother Marie's marsala.  The wine.  The cookies.

Cousin Johnny would take you out to garage to do bumps off of the workbench.  I always tried to get out of there before some wise guy would ask, "So, when you gonna marry my cousin?"  I should have said, "I'm just a gigolo.  Duh."

Kids ran amok.

And sitting on the couch with a glass of wine and a giant smile was Uncle Henry.  People left him alone, but he was just happy to be there.  Over time, he realized that I was a little more evolved than the other fellas and would strike up a conversation.

He was fascinating.  An architect who had designed offices in London and Paris.  Soon he would spend hours talking about art, travel, architecture, literature.  He was something of an oasis.

We would also talk about music.  He asked me, "Can you do something about this music?  How many times do we have to listen to Dean Martin?"

The next year, I brought a mixtape that included Christmas tunes by The Ventures, Booker T. & The MGs, and some great jazz renditions.  I slipped it on.  Uncle Henry seemed tone in heaven, until one of the cousins said "What is this crap?" and put Dean Martin on.

Ever since, I think of Uncle Henry this time of year.  He was a warm, decent human being.

I hope that - wherever he is - there are good Christmas tunes.

Click Here to listen to Christmas Time Is Here by Khruangbin.