Each day when I walk, I like to listen to music that I’ve saved on my I-Pod. It’s just a collection of songs I like and that mean something to me. I especially love the music of Christmas even during the summer! As I was walking the other day, a Gene Autry song popped up. (Some of you may not know who Gene is but stay with me.) Autry recorded probably the most recognizable Christmas song that all ages will know, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”. The song has been recorded hundreds of times, but Autry’s is the original version. As I walked, I couldn’t help but smile as memories through the years of Christmases past flooded through my mind.

Years ago, I had the chance to interview Gene Autry, and we talked about his recording of Rudolph. He told me that it almost didn’t happen. He had been in the studio recording other songs, and once that was done, there was still some studio time left. Someone pitched Rudolph to Gene and suggested he record it. He told me he was not really interested in the song but decided to record it anyway since they still had some time in the studio. Good thing he did! Rudolph became the biggest hit for the Singing Cowboy along with “Frosty the Snowman”.

In my teen years, I began my career in broadcasting at my hometown radio station. As the new kid in the studio, I had the HONOR of working on Christmas day while the adult staffers were given time to spend with their families. I really didn’t mind since the day was filled with the music of Christmas. Songs like Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas”, Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song”, and one I really liked “The Christmas Waltz” which always made me want to dance. Those were fun times, and my parents understood how much I loved my job. Now as Christmas approaches, I love listening to Amy Grant singing the music of the holidays. My favorite is “Count Your Blessings”.

I love counting my blessings every Christmas. Especially when my family gathers at my house. Angela and I have three children. Now our three are married and we have ten grandchildren. So, we’ve grown from just the two of us to a total of eighteen! I can assure you that Christmas is a crazy, special time at the Chapman house where noise and blessings are plentiful!

Sadly, this year I lost one of the blessings in my life. My sister Carol passed away after battling Alzheimer’s for many years. She was so artistic, and Christmas was her favorite time of the year. Carol loved hosting the family during the holidays. At her service, the church sanctuary was decorated with some of the many quilts she had made over the years for all her family as well as many friends in her community. Another special blessing added to the service program was her recipe for cream cheese pound cake. As a true southern lady, Carol loved sharing her recipes even after she was gone.

Sometimes we need to pause during our busy, noisy lives and take time to count our blessings. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by our day- to- day activities. Pausing to take stock of our blessings is important. That’s why when I take my walks, I can get away from the busyness in my life. I can listen to my music. Each song on my I-Pod is there for a reason and reminds me in some special way of how blessed my life is.

Recently, my brother sent me a picture made many years ago. It was a photo I took at a holiday dinner with my family. In the photo were my two grandfathers, my mother and dad, my sister, a sister-in-law and nephew now all deceased. Only my two brothers and I are left from that Christmas picture. As I look at it, the picture it is a reminder of the gift of our families, and how precious life is. As we celebrate another Christmas, I hope you can spend it with family and cherish the moments you have with them and as the song says. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”.

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