The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
(Music and lyrics by Torme and Wells—1946)
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping at your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.
Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe,
Help to make the season bright.
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow,
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.
They know that Santa's on his way;
He's loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh.
And every mother's child is going to spy,
To see if reindeer really know how to fly.
And so I'm offering this simple phrase,
To kids from one to ninety-two,
Although it’s been said many times, many ways,
Merry Christmas to you.
This song reminds me of trips to New York City at Christmastime when we were children. It was not an annual tradition, but we did manage a few trips as a family as I remember. We would take the train from Tarrytown to Grand Central Station in Manhattan and then walk down 5th Avenue to 37th Street to see the storefront window at Lord &Taylor’s. It always had a spectacular Christmas display of one kind or another; folks lined up to walk past it with their children. It fascinated us as kids. We also would go and see the big Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, watch the skaters on the rink in front of the tree, and stop into St. Patrick’s Cathedral nearby to light a candle. What I also remember (also thanks to this song) are the street vendors who sold roasted chestnuts. My father would buy a bag of them and share them with us. I don’t remember that I liked them very much, but he did and that was fine. They always smelled so good, especially in the cold winter air and it was nice to hold the warm bag of chestnuts and feel the warmth through my gloves. But it was the sights and sounds of Manhattan at Christmastime that I remember too. And even as a young adult when I worked in Manhattan, the Christmas storefront displays, the glittering trees, the streetlights and Christmas lights hung up, Trump Tower with its big wreaths—all of it has stayed in my mind—glittering with the splendor of the season.