Afternoon Delight

By Cathy C. Hall

The first Christmas after my husband died was right around the corner, and I was still struggling to get through the everyday routines of my life. How in the world would I face this huge holiday event?

Because Christmas at our house had always been…well, a lot: Lots of decorating, lots of cookies, lots of family, lots of music. But mostly, lots of fun. Even with our kids all grown up, we celebrated with games and silliness and crazy traditions. Oh! And laughter. Lots and lots of laughter. I couldn’t imagine a holiday with games and silliness and especially laughter without Dave in the middle of it all.

Still, the holiday kept on coming, and one November morning in the midst of moving and arranging all the albums and CDs and tapes in my husband’s office, I got an idea. As the Grinch would say, I got a wonderful, possibly awful idea.

My husband and I had met while we worked at the same Top 40 radio station. He was a DJ, and I was a part-time copywriter and traffic coordinator. He had been in radio for nearly ten years before that, and if you counted back to when he was just eight years old and played his 45 records so that the neighborhood could hear, then he’d been playing music for a long time.

He’d left radio shortly after we married, but he’d never left his music. That man couldn’t drive down to the corner without fiddling with his car radio to get a good song. Through the years, we’d gone from listening to the radio, then tapes, then CDs, and then Sirius. And his collection? I can’t even think of a word big enough to describe it. I guess it’s easiest to say that it was like my Christmas celebration: a lot.

Naturally, his children grew up listening to all this music, but not just in the car. Dave would play his music all the time at home, spinning records for the kids on a Saturday night, making mixed tapes for them of their favorite songs, blasting out In A Gadda Da Vida while he was supposedly working in that office. Our kids may be Millennials, but they have the musical heart of a Baby Boomer.

So I decided to give each kid a record player for Christmas. And then I’d let them go through their dad’s music collection – that is, the albums I could bear to part with – and choose their favorites. Like I said, I wasn’t sure if it was a wonderful idea or an awful idea; we’d just have to wait and see, even though the kids knew they were getting the record players, and I’d told them my plan beforehand. I had no way of knowing what would happen on Christmas day.

My youngest son crafted wood boxes for the albums, making one for each of the kids, and me, too. One side of the box was a chalkboard, and John drew a personalized picture on each one. That child had mad skills, and I didn’t even know it! So under the tree was a special surprise gift for all of us.

And then, after dinner, we dragged out the boxes and boxes of albums. But instead of just picking and choosing, the kids started playing the records, listening to certain songs off the albums.

There was a lot of singing and a lot of compromising that lasted all afternoon long. “I’ll trade you this Moody Blues and a Jethro Tull for Purple Rain.” Oh, that Purple Rain discussion got heated! But you know what? It was a lot of fun, too.

And there was love and laughter in all that music. It was almost like my husband was still there, enjoying every song that played. And who am I to say that he wasn’t around on Christmas day, for a little afternoon delight?

About this writer

  • Cathy C. Hall

    Cathy C. Hall

    Cathy C. Hall is a humor writer and children’s author who lives in the Atlanta area. She spends her summers, thinking up ideas to write about at Tybee Island.

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9 Responses to “Afternoon Delight”

  1. Sherri Rivers says:

    Cathy, your words are so touching. What a legacy he leaves behind. And a treasure trove of memories! Much love to you and your family this Christmas.

  2. Pat Wahler says:

    What a wonderful idea and sweet story. I really enjoyed reading this, Cathy.

  3. Rose Ann says:

    It was a endearing and special idea. I can’t think of a better way to pay tribute to your husband and father of your children. Thanks for sharing your special memory.

  4. I cried reading this, but they were good tears. Trust you and your wonderful family to create happy memories even amidst fresh grief. Love finds a way.

  5. Becky Lewellen Povich says:

    Oh, Cathy C, what a beautifully written story! I never knew how you and Dave met, or that he loved music so much. He and I would’ve been great pals. I’m the same way….can’t drive a mile without some good music on my car radio! I also admire your strength these past years, and wish you and your kids another wonderful Christmas this year!

  6. Linda O'Connell says:

    Such a heart warming story, and wonderful Christmas memory for your kids to treasure. Brought a tear. LOVE it!

  7. Sioux says:

    Cathy–This made me sniffle a bit (if I cry this early in the morning, my day will be shot). What a heartwarming story. (And I love the twist of the title. Veeeery clever ;)

    Dave is still with your family… every time you play one of his records.

  8. What a beautiful way to celebrate Christmas with Dave. I love this. You have an amazing heart, amazing kids, and a wonderful way of sharing this with the rest of us.

  9. Susan Yanguas says:

    I loved your idea for the phonographs…and your son’s, as well. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story.

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