I am fortunate to come from a big family of Joneses. Growing up, birthdays, summer cookouts, Easter, Thanksgiving and especially Christmas were holidays to look forward to because they meant a house full of family, food, gifts, but most of all good music, laughter and dancing.

Every year after Thanksgiving my cousin and I would rush home from school to help my grandma and aunt decorate the house for Christmas. We would line the entire house with garland, lights, stockings, and candy canes and my grandma always made sure she had some good tunes playing the entire time. After we were finished we would sit in the living room with just the Christmas lights on quietly. The tree would be blinking with colorful lights, the stairs, the doorways, the porch, everywhere. It was almost magical to a kid with a huge imagination.

I miss those days. On Christmas eve how we would all walk around the corner to the Mini Station community and police area and they would give out toys to the kids in the neighborhood, church Christmas parties or going to our parent’s work holiday parties as kids. Those were some good times. The night before my cousins and I would sit around the tree trying to figure out what we got. We would sneak and rip holes in the bottom of the gifts to see what they were and put them back in a way no one would notice. Even though those days are long gone and a new generation of Joneses are growing up there are still somethings that never let me forget my childhood and the “magic” of the holiday season: the music.

  1. SalSoul Orchestra Christmas Medley 

It was seriously not a Jones Family Christmas without this album. My grandparents had a record player and this vinyl was always on rotation. I always thought the woman on the cover was so pretty. My cousin and I would march around the house as we hung the lights and garland. We would act like soldiers. Those were some great times.

2. Alexander O’Neal’s My Gift To You album 

The vinyl belonged to my mom and it was played every Christmas in the Jones residence. There were some good times when we all lived together under one big house. As an adult hearing this song makes me think of those times as a kid. After the gifts were opened, food was eaten and the card table with the Spades game had begun and everybody was mellowing down, this album always did the trick.

3. Bebe and Cece’s Christmas Songs 

This album makes me think of trips to the mall during the holiday season. I remember my cousin was always afraid of the mall Santa. I loved it! Speaking of Santa, I was also fortunate to have my father’s family two doors down from my mother’s family. The McKoy’s. I would open my gifts and eat at my grandparents house and then walk two doors down the street and open up gifts and eat at my other grandparents house. My Pop Pop Hicks would take me to his company’s huge Christmas party.

4. A Temptation’s Christmas 

This was my grandfather’s favorite Christmas album. It is so necessary in a black household. NECESSARY!! You will have your black card revoked up you do not have this album somewhere in your house! I remember at one point my cousin and I were convinced that Otis Redding was Santa Claus because of his picture on the album cover. I’ll never forget the day we left Cookies and Pepsi out by the fireplace in my grandma’s house for him. We figured out later on that Santa was my grandma and pop pop because we recognized my grandma’s distinct handwriting on the gifts. We caught on.

Of course there was Boyz II Men, The Jackson 5, my mother’s Charlie Brown Christmas album, but those songs above were classics! As I get older and start dancing around the idea of being serious about settling down, I hope to pass these song traditions down to my own children and incorporate them in my own house.

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