My favorite Saturday is spent in the companionship of the radio, familiar friends keeping me company throughout the day. In the early onset darkness of winter, as the afternoon moves toward night, the voices and stories strike me more deeply.
Last weekend I returned to the car from errands, and was met by his voice over the car radio, casual and smooth and comfortable, like a goodnight bedtime story.
This was a story, I love listening to stories.
I sense it’s just the beginning of the story, and I don’t know how much I have missed or where the narrative is headed. There is a young couple, sledding, a child, and the way he talks about her so longingly and lovingly even though she is right there. The way we talk about the things in life which matter, the things we want to hold on to. It’s fiction, The H Street Sledding Record, but it feels warm and real as memoir. And just as beautiful. Full of the traditional trappings of Christmas like snow and reindeer and gifts, but it’s the tone that digs into my heart. This is not a Christmas story, this is a story of ritual and love and yearning and life, told through the lens of Christmas tradition.
This story, and the author’s voice, are a bit of calm amidst what some experience as the holiday storm, a reassurance that expresses what this season is really about. The narrative has little to do with presents and rush and hustle It’s about quotidian memories and intimacy. It isn’t just about these few holiday moments together, it’s about how the ritual of it knits us together the remaining 364 days of the year, and how those years add up to mean something.
Here is my Christmas offering to you, The H Street Sledding Record by Ron Carlson, read by the author on This American Life. There is no way to explain it, other than to make you listen to it. So do it, listen to it now, all eleven minutes of it.
This American Life, December 21, 2012: Lights, Camera, Christmas!
The H Street Sledding Record, from A Kind of Flying by Ron Carlson