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Daddy & Willie -- Christmas 1981

I hope I’m never too old to have a good girlfriend in my life.  Even though the telephone is not my preferred way to visit, Ann and I can while away thirty minutes together on the phone and time just flies.  We share bits and pieces of everyday life:  what’s going on with her — what’s going on with me — making tentative plans to see each other later this month.

I always call early since Ann is one of those ‘up and Adam’ people — if I don’t catch her before she’s left for the gym, we’re likely to miss each other all day and play a few rounds of the ‘tag-your-it’ game.   But this morning Ann  wasn’t an early riser, so she was still there when I called.  Ann had slept in since she and her daughter had been out late the night before, seeing Willie Nelson perform at the Galveston Opera House.

“Well… how was Willie?,” I asked.

It was good to hear that Willie was just fine, still singing with remnants of richness in his gravely voice.   But even if Willie hadn’t been fine, the historic opera house in Galveston is fine enough to make for a wonderful evening for  Willie’s friends and mine.

Not everyone, however, is a friend or fan of Willie.  I learned my daddy, for instance, does not like Willie Nelson’s music, from one of those unforgettable life lessons, which came at my brother Jon’s expense. The moment of higher learning occurred appropriately, during the height of urban cowboy fame in America, when everyone and their dog loved Willie and anything country.  My brother, a connoisseur of fine music, decided to give Daddy a Willie Nelson album for Christmas.  The album was sure to be a hit, since after all, it was entitled:  “Willie Nelson’s Greatest Hits (and some that will be.)” Don’t you just love that title?   Well… if only Dad had.  Dad opened up Jon’s gift, looked at it as if it was a poisonous snake  he wouldn’t touch with the proverbial ten-foot pole and said loud enough for the neighbors to hear —  “What’s this?”  WHO thought I liked Willie Nelson? I DON’T like Willie Nelson.”

From that point on, having a Willie Nelson Christmas meant something special to my brother, sister and I.  At all costs, it was something to be avoided.  After all, we give gifts to spread joy rather than abuse.  To give a  Willie Nelson gift in my family means giving the sort of gift one might get stuck with at a white elephant gift exchange, when the parade of gifts has come to an end and there is no more horse trading to be done.  And everyone knows what comes at the end of every parade of white elephants….or horses….

But out with the old memories and in with the new.  Because a new Christmas gift buying season lays before us.  And as we hit the road again, let us go forth with this benediction in our hip pocket, while we deck the malls in search of that oh so perfect Christmas gift for those special someones in our lives…

May all our Christmas giving be bright… with nary a Willie Nelson in sight.

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