is an Audie Award, Audiobook of the Year (2011), Audible Best Audiobook (2012), and Earphones Award winning narrator with more than 100 audiobooks to her credit. She first trained as an actor and is a member of Actors Studio, where she’s worked with Martin Landau, Shelley Winters, Harvey Keitel, and Al Pacino. She was named as the Audiobook Narrator of the Year in 2010 from Publisher’s Weekly. She is also passionate about her work in the audiobook community. I had the opportunity to speak with her briefly in preparation for Baby, It’s Cold Outside and her enthusiasm was infectious. While I hope to have the pleasure of meeting Coleen in person one day (preferably in sunny California!), I do so appreciate the opportunity to work with her here on Baby, It’s Cold Outside!
I first listened to and enjoyed Coleen’s narration when I listened to Snakewoman of Little Eygpt by Robert Helenga, for which she won an Audie Award. I have The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors by Michele Young-Stone that I’ve been wanting to read for some time now. Over her career she has narrated the work of many talented authors, such as Louise Erdrich’s Shadow Tag, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Pilgrims, both Sourland and The Black Dahlia & White Rose by Joyce Carol Oates, and We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Coleen also really enjoyed narrating No Biking in the House Without a Helmet On by Melissa Fay Greene.
Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!
~ Charles Dickens
One of my earliest memories of childhood was sitting with my four siblings beside me, all cuddled up together on our small couch in our even smaller den, reading Christmas books to each other, all at once. There was always a cacophony of sounds in our house, babies crying, giggles and squeals, arguments and groans, all rolled into one on going melody that we called home. On Christmas Eve, we children, climbing all over each other, vying for the best seat, would gather around our Mother and Father, seated before our majestic Christmas tree. At least to us it was majestic, for we usually made it a point to proudly pick out the most scraggly tree on the lot in allegiance with Charlie Brown and the true meaning of Christmas.
My father would then begin to recite the story “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” with dramatic emphasis on Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On Cupid! On Donner and Blitzen!” sending chills up my spine in anticipation of the magic to come. The poem was first published anonymously in 1823, and to this day no one is sure who wrote this beloved poem, Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston, Jr. It has been called “arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American,” and is greatly responsible for many of the concepts of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today.” I can still hear my father’s voice, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” Then it was time for bed and my mother would lilt in a sing song voice “Up the Golden Stairs We Go,” as we ascended the stairs anticipating sugar plums dancing in our heads. Oh how I longed to catch a glimpse of Santa coming down my chimney! But I didn’t dare, having been forewarned that if even one of us was still awake he would not enter our home. So instead I peeked through the curtains of my bedroom window whilst tucked beneath my covers and longed to catch a glimpse of Rudolph flying through the night air. One year under a bright moon and a sky resplendent with stars I was sure I saw Rudolph’s red lodestar. I motioned frantically for my sister to come over to my bed and we gazed out the window holding each other in rhapsody, until we realized that Santa wouldn’t come if we were still awake! Bellies filled with an ambrosial Christmas Eve dinner and hidden stashes of chocolate chip cookies, none of which ever made it to Christmas day, we drifted off to dream the loveliest dreams of the year.
There is a yearning in me even now for those days of magical thinking. I understood then as I do now that wishing on a star or gazing up to the heavens in search of Santa, inspires a rush of absolute love in the beauty of the universe, in the belief that anything is possible and dreams do come true.
Life can be peaceful and joyous and good. It can be as simple and innocent as a child’s Christmas ritual of looking up into the starlit sky to believe that all is right with the world. Everyday, somewhere in the world people are dying for their beliefs, children hold out hope for a drizzle of clean water, young girls die because they stand up for their right to be educated. And yet we as humans still continue to hope. We move through the sorrow the pain and the losses and somehow have the faith to hold on until the possibility of joy and peace enters our lives again. It is the ability to hold the beauty of our memories gently in our hearts that allows us to look back and find those moments of beauty which guide us to move into the future and once again grasp at life with outstretched hands. For life is our greatest gift.
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!