Happy holidays everyone! It’s about an hour past midnight and that makes it officially Christmas! I’m giddy with x-mas cheer and the anticipation of presents to come. I can hardly wait for Santa’s sleigh to fly through the Mission District and to me (that is if the 16th street Sureños don’t get him for wearing red first).
I spent Christmas eve with Mariela, it’s hard to believe this is our 8th Christmas together. We began the day with lunch at my place with my mom and dad. It’s such a rare occasion to have the four of us together for a meal and it was our first Christmas all together. Later, we jetted to her family’s house for their Christmas celebration. It’s often an intense experience being at two family gathering in the same day for us because they’re such different experiences. My family is small and laid back while her’s is loud, large, and energetic. Her family has become my family in so many ways. Not growing up with any extended family has made me humbled and appreciative of the love they have given me over the years.
For the record, my favorite holiday album of all time is Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Not only does it bring a sentimental tear to my eye when I listen to it, I can always perfectly picture the cast of Peanuts dancing to Linus & Lucy in my mind’s eye. I dare say it’s also my favorite piece of Americana. I was a little shocked to find out that Mariela was unfamiliar with the music when I played it over our lunch. Despite growing up in Latino families, three blocks apart from each other, we really did have very different childhoods.
Speaking of Latino families, I found myself wondering if there are any ubiquitous Latino Christmas albums? I’ve heard Jose Feliciano sing Feliz Navidad so many times that I pretty much just roll my eyes and sigh everytime I hear it now. Is there anything else we all collectively gravitate to?
I can tell you one thing, as a Chicano hipster who enjoys holiday music, I was rescued from my solitude and diaspora by Adrienne Bailon. You see, I have to confess that I have a hidden passion for 3LW’s Christmas album Naughty or Nice. Despite its title and cover art Naughty or Nice isn’t all that raunchy or dir-tay, what it is though is the most ghetto-fabulous mainstream Christmas album of all time. As a concept album, it’s more ghetto than purple Kool-Aid mixed with malt liqour. From Xmas in tha Hood to Shady Holiday it’s non-stop jams throughout the album.
Adrienne Bailon is the Latina member of 3LW (Three Little Women) and puts it down for the homegirls in this one. Embarassingly, there were only two members of the group at the time after one of them left following a fried chicken brawl at KFC. Although Ms. Bailon’s name has been scandalized in the news lately over naked pictures of her circulating online I’ll be forever grateful to her for supplying a Christmas album for all of us urban Latinos out there. This album is an obscure gem that I recommend picking up if you ever come across it.
That’s it for now, I’m gonna get some sleep and have starry-eyed dreams of presents, snow, and Santa