It's time for the annual Montreal (and other cities far and wide) tradition, the Paul Reid Christmas show. This radio program was a mainstay of my youth in the 1970s.
What is a Paul Reid Christmas? It is a cross between Norman Rockwell and The Waltons. The program is a well orchestrated event wherein Paul Reid intermingles classic Christmas songs and stories with the reminiscences of his childhood Christmases in Ontario, Canada during the great depression.
If you're not a Christian, this may well get you to convert. If you are in any measure cynical of this Western, North American tableau, this program might well cause you to have a brain hemorrhage just by listening. Personally, I love this program to death and never miss it, every year.
Paul Reid did the program live every year and refined it from year to year. He has since passed on and the current broadcasts are full-length recordings.
If you're taken by the program, his son, who still lives in Montreal, sells a CD via this web site.
A Paul Reid Chfristmas has become a bit of an institution in the cities where Paul Reid was on the air.
The live show revolves around Paul’s memories of Christmas while growing up as one of sixteen children. He talks reverently of his Mother and Father and how they made Christmas so special even though they were poor.
He talks bout his favourite Christmas Carols and plays them all.
While Paul was alive, in the true Christmas spirit, he gave the show to anyone who wished to broadcast it. As a result it played in a number of countries and on the Armed Forces Network. We were told it also played during the war in Vietnam.
It is worth noting that he did most of show live every year. Some pieces were taped to give him a break. Some years he had trouble finding something new to add or he didn’t feel the Christmas spirit. (It aired the first week of December most years.) The radio station staff and librarians would help. When Dad would go in to prepare for the show, he would find the studio darkened with only candles lit, a decorated Christmas tree in the corner and other decorations. There were usually messages from staff and most importantly his kids and family, wishing him a Merry Christmas. To him, Merry Christmas meant "I love You."
I have listened to the show hundreds of times over the years and it never seems to age or get stale. It is truly a timeless show that appeals to all ages, races and religions.
Luckily, I found a snippet of the show on Youtube:
The show will be broadcast several times over the next few days on Paul Reid's radio home, CJAD 800 (Montreal):