December 1972: NEIL DIAMOND - Moods

Even though my parents were now leading separate lives, they decided to band together one last time for the family Christmas gathering at my Uncle Art & Aunt Marie’s house in Whitney Chase, a subdivision close to our apartment complex. Maybe they were trying to keep up appearances in front of the family (like they didn’t know, or something?), or maybe trying to let me briefly revisit the sense of being a family again, but whatever the reason, it failed. Everyone was uncomfortable, and I didn’t have near as much fun as I normally did at these events because too many family members wound up stroking my hair and looking at me sadly. Pity and Santa just don’t mix.

The first Christmas morning with just me and Mom was much better. It was a relief that Santa was able to find me inside this apartment complex, and didn’t mix up my gifts with any of the other kids in the building (a valid worry for a 7 year old). I knew “he” got it right because I got a long, gold necklace with a large round medallion with a cursive “P” in the middle (I still have it to this day), a way to acknowledge my new name.

And from a co-worker, Mom got a copy of the latest Neil Diamond album, Moods. “Song Sung Blue” was a huge hit, and Mom sung along with it on the radio with a fervor I didn’t quite understand. But there was a song on the album that made us both really happy, “Gitchy Goomy.”

It was upbeat and relentlessly tuneful, causing both of us to play the song over and over, singing along and doing a little jitterbug in the living room. Plus, the guy on the album cover was really, really cute; we both agreed on this important point. So, Neil Diamond forever owns a warm spot in my heart for providing us moments of pure joy in an otherwise bleak holiday season.

"Gitchy Goomy" by Neil Diamond.

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