Songs can be powerful time machines. Sometimes all it takes is hearing the first few notes or strands of a melody and YOU ARE THERE.
It is amazing to me how a song has the uncanny ability to mentally fast track you to a place you haven’t thought about in years.
Recently, I was driving my car home in the oh so unpleasant nightly commute of bumper to bumper traffic on Connecticut Avenue. I found myself pushing the radio buttons over and over because there were so many commercials playing and I was getting annoyed. Yada, yada, yada.
I was trying to find something to listen to and didn’t want to fool around with the CD’s because I was trying to be a good driver. I wasn’t up for anything frantic or metallic or anything that would make me wish I was on the open road going faster. On one station I suddenly heard the silky smooth voice of Johnny Mathis singing “Winter Wonderland” and it was magical.
When I hear Johnny Mathis sing, I am instantly a child again and I am living in our house on Silver Rock Road in Rockville, Md. I am 6 years old and it is evening. It’s right after dinner. My two younger sisters and one younger brother and I have all had our baths and we are running around, giggling and happy in our pajamas. This particular Christmas there were only four of us. The youngest two siblings were not yet born.
I am mentally in that house and it is warm and full of love and smells like cookies and candy and everything is glittery and snowy and full of anticipation. We are bumping into each other and jumping on to the couches and running around and wondering when Santa will be at our house. We want to put the cookies and milk out so we can get Santa to come to our house first.
As much as our parents try, they cannot get us to calm down to get ready to go to sleep.
Sleigh bells ring, Are you listening,
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
We’re happy tonight
Walking in a Winter Wonderland.
The whole scene is hardwired in my brain and when I hear Johnny Mathis singing, “Winter Wonderland” it triggers this powerful and comforting memory every time.
Could anything be more innocent?