Ah, the sound of Christmas music on the radio and in the stores as shoppers clammer for bargains. Commercialism, the economy, Black Friday and Cyber Monday aside, I do enjoy getting out all my Christmas CDs and tapes and listening to all the pretty songs that we only get to hear a month out of the year. Once Christmas is over, the music is gone until next Christmas.
It’s hard to pick a favorite Christmas song because you have favorite carols, favorite classics, favorite newer songs. And different songs are your favorite in different times of your life. When I was little, “The Little Drummer Boy” was the most beautiful song I had ever heard. The definitive version by the Harry Simeone Chorale still brings a tear to my eye.
But the one that has been my most favorite for several years now is one you don’t hear very often. Roger Miller, the singer/songwriter responsible for such silliness as “King of the Road,” “Dang Me,” “You Can’t Rollerskate in a Buffalo Herd,”and many others, wrote “Old Toy Trains” in the 1960s for his own son, and that alone makes me cry.
It’s a simple little song that a father is singing to his son at bedtime the night before Christmas.
“Old toy trains, little toy tracks, little boy toys, coming from a sack, carried by a man dressed in white and red, little boy don’t you think it’s time you were in bed.”
Just the thought of those little boy toys makes me ache for when my son was a little red-haired boy filled with excitement and wonder about Santa Claus visiting the night before Christmas. When a red Radio Flyer wagon or a Weeble village was enough to make a little boy happy. When you see him Christmas morning with his pajamas on and his hair all messed up, but with a smile on his face and his eyes filled with stars.
“Close your eyes, listen to the skies, all is calm, all is well, soon you’ll hear Kris Kringle and the jingle bells, bringing old toy trains …”
Not many words to it, but those words combined with the uncomplicated little melody, Miller’s gentle voice and guitar make it the sweetest Christmas song I know. Very few can bring back memories like this one can, even though the song is not that old.
Others singers have versions of the song, including Toby Keith, Raffi and various folk singers but Miller’s is the only one for me.
Now before we get too mushy, my son would probably say his favorite song is “The Chipmunk Song” or the grandkids would say their favorite is “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”
But for me, it’s the one that makes me see my little boy’s face.