Sunday, December 19, 2010

Destined to Spend Christmas with Danny Aiello

One of the best things in life is that we don't know what the future holds.  This can be a double-edged sword, though.


I had no idea that last Christmas would be my last Christmas with Lillie and Izzie.  I lost them both this year.  I'm not complaining.  I was truly blessed to have them for nearly two decades.  I knew they wouldn't live forever, but it's been hard.  I still miss them.


Since their passing, I've been going through the expected this is the first so-and-so without Izzie, which became – much too soon – this is the first such-and-such without Izzie and Lillie.  And now, naturally, this is the first Christmas without them. 


As I began to decorate my house this year, I could not bring myself to fill my large decorative bowl with the red glass ornaments like I usually do.  Lillie always enjoyed sleeping in that bowl and, at Christmastime, Izzie always sat beside me while I filled it with the glass balls. No, this year, the bowl would remain empty.  I made that decision while holding the boxed ornaments in my garage.  Placing them back on the shelf, I saw the picture of Danny Aiello that's on the newspaper sleeve that safely protects them all year long.  Looking at it for an extended moment, I sighed, "My first Christmas without Lillie and Izzie… or Danny Aeillo." (See 12/7/08 post)  Or so I thought.


Shortly after Thanksgiving I received an email from – you'll never believe this – Danny Aiello's press agent.  It seems Danny released a Christmas CD and she wanted to give me a copy.  Whaaa?  I guess I was destined to spend Christmas with Danny Aiello, after all.  I graciously accepted her offer.


The CD is dedicated to his son – whom he lost this year to pancreatic cancer.  I lost my beloved pets.  He lost his son.  I can't even imagine what that's like.


The CD opens with a touching intro about Danny's youth, a time when life was simple – living was harder, but life was simpler.  The songs that follow are classics arranged in jazzy combos that give them a fresh fun feel.  As I listen, I can imagine sitting at a small cocktail table in an upholstered circular booth in a dimly lit intimate club watching the show live – I love it.  His version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" is reminiscent of something performed at Club Babalu – a welcome change to the over-played rendition by Bruce Springsteen.  (Sorry Springsteen fans.)  Rounding out the collection is a dedication to his son – a heartfelt "My Christmas Song for You" – a song about the simple joys of the season.


What we shouldn't forget is that this season is built around the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  Jesus came to give us hope, to redeem us, to save us – through him, life goes on. 


I know it sounds silly, but getting this CD reminds me of that very thing.  I didn't bring out those ornaments, and as such, thought this would be a Christmas without Danny Aiello, but then his CD shows up – a CD dedicated to his late son.  Life goes on – you can't stop living.


As I write this, like Lillie before her, Bailey's climbed into that bowl – good thing it's empty, I guess.  Next year will be different.  Next year – God willing – when decorating my house, I'll remove the Danny Aiello article to unwrap the red glass ornaments, I'll have him crooning Christmas carols in my living room and I'll look to Bailey and Zoe and say, "Well, girls, it's another Christmas with Danny Aiello."


Merry Christmas ~