Santa Claus With Soul

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By no right should I actually have Christmas memories. I grew up in the house of a militant agnostic--one William Paul Coates. We did not celebrate a single holiday except birthdays. We actually fasted until sundown on Thanksgiving. (I'm considering going back to that, but that's another post.) My dad worked virtually every day, if not at his job at Howard, then at his small publishing company, which he ran out our basement. His shadow is such that, even now, I can think of nothing better then to spend Christmas Day working on my book. But family is different for me, in these times.


Still, this song below, I can remember playing while driving across North Avenue one Christmas night, with my father, in his old beat-up yellow and tan station wagon. My dad says that when he was younger he was a huge soul fan, but as a child I knew him as a dude who would basically only played Joan Armatrading, NPR, and PRI. 

Still for some reason, he had the radio on one night, and "Fat Daddy," an old Baltimore classic, came on. Man, he was happy. Sang all the way up North Avenue. It's funny, as I know him now, this fits in with who he is. But as a child, my dad wasn't so much a dude as he was a demigod who I happened to live with. His spheres of influence were as follows--Seriousness, Work, and More Seriousness. 

Anyway, it's a great song. Especially if you're from Baltimore.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. More

Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.

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