The word "chestnuts" may open one or two other songs, but sing "chestnuuuuts" and most people assume, rightly, you're about to launch into a stirring, octave-testing version of "The Christmas Song."
Carols don't come more classic, nor lyrics indelible, but the snowy, cozy portrait painted by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells in the 1944 ditty came straight from imagination, and not their surroundings: They wrote it in Toluca Lake.
Sunny LA, of course, is home to some of the holiday season's snowiest sights and sounds -- the snow-pretty scenes "It's a Wonderful Life" were shot in Encino -- so it is no surprise that Christmas's biggest bundle-up tune is pure Toluca Lake.
It's 70 years old, and the neighborhood is pausing to remember its famous homegrown carol, a carol that's gone note-to-note with "White Christmas" for the title of best-selling Christmas song of all time. ("White Christmas," too, has LA roots, with a shout-out to Beverly Hills in its traditional opening lyrics.)
Let us also note that "The Christmas Song" has been recorded well over a hundred times, but, absolutely and forever most notably by Nat King Cole. And let us know that the tune was penned on what is oft-called a sweltering summer day in the Valley.
The imagination of songwriters, huzzah.
The Toluca Lake homage mi-mi-mis on Friday, Dec. 5 at the Toluca Lake Open House on Riverside Drive. Performer Mackenzie Sol, who played Billy Elliott in London, will sing the carol at 7 p.m.
A Toys for Tots collection drive, the Wells Fargo stagecoach and horses, shop giveaways, and a tree lighting with NBC4's Fritz Coleman dot the celebratory evening, in addition to the singing of Toluca Lake's most famous cultural creation, "The Christmas Song."
"Most famous" is a big thing to say, but, truly, pretty much everybody can sing at least the first few lines, yes? "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..."
Though, honest now: Jack Frost does not nip all that many noses around Toluca Lake. Funny how some of the snowiest songs and cinema in the world have their frosty roots in sunny SoCal.