Loco, the playful grinly German shepherd, ran across the basketball court to join the two young boys. Michael and Jermaine Jackson were walking behind their home in Encino, California, not far from Los Angeles. A Christmas tree had been put up the day before and could be seen sparkling through the window. Their mother and father always made everything beautiful at Christmas. But Michael was upset today.
"Christmas always makes me a little sad now," Michael said to his brother. "I always remember the good friends we had to leave in Gary, Indiana. I wish we could see them more often. Especially at Christmas. We used to have so much fun together at Christmas." "We can still call and talk to them on the telephone," Jermaine said, rubbing Loco‘s fuzzy head. “But that’s not half as good as seeing them, is it?"
"I miss the snow in Gary, too," Michael added. "We never have snow here in Encino, only the sunshine." "Yeah, that’s true, Michael,” Jermaine said, throwing an arm over his little hrother's shoulder. "But even though we miss our hometown friends, we have made millions of new friends through our music. Dad said we have to remember that."
"You’re right.” Michael said. "I know what I'll do. l'll take some time to personally answer more of our fan mail. I want to thank our fans for liking us." That’s a good idea I’ll helpyou," Jermaine said. "And maybe Tito,” Marlon, Jackie and Randy can help us too."
The boys found their brothers sitting by the huge swimming pool. Tito, Marlon, Randy and Jackie were rehearsing so that they would be ready for their next concert tour. The Jackson Five always work hard on their music. Even though Christmas was only a few days away, the popular quintet knew that they could not quit practicing. Michael told his brothers what he had on his mind.
"Why don’t we write and tell our fans what we want to get for Christmas," exclaimed young Randy, who joined the group in the summer of 1972 as bongo player. "That’s a good idea,” Tito agreed, putting his guitar in the case. "What do you want for Christmas, Michael?"
"A golf cart," Michael shouted. "But you can't play golf,” Tito said with a chuckle. "I know. I just want to drive around in it like a race car." All the brothers laughed at Michael, who laughed too.
Michael always has a good sense of humor and likes practical jokes. At 14, the young teen star is small, but very strong and quick. When he is not practicing his music, he plays basketball and ping pong. He also enjoys watching television, especially science fiction and detective shows. "Christmas has changed a lot since I was a little boy," said Jackie, 22, and the oldest member of the group. "I can remember when kids in the neighborhood looked forward to getting bicycles and other toys for Christmas. Now, people don’t look up to Santa Claus like they used to."
"Yeah," agreed Marlon. "And I guess it really doesn’t matter so much what you give or receive. The spirit you give in or receive in is what counts." Marlon explains himself and reminds his famous brothers that a short and sincere letter from one of their fans means as much to them as one that is five or six pages long. The Jackson brothers nod in agreement.
Anyone who knows about The Jackson Five should know that the popular singing group sells many records and therefore, earns large sums of money. The brothers could easily afford to show their love for family and friends at Christmastime by spending their money on expensive gifts. But The Jackson Five know well enough that money can not buy friends. They also know that a warm and friendly smile can often better express their love for others than an expensive gift. Each of the Jackson brothers is very menoly and engoys meeting their fans. They enjoy doing benefit shows.
One of their favorite benefits was a Christmas party for blind children last year. "It was great to be able to make so many kids really happy in a group small enough to see and talk to," says Jermaine. More than 400 blind children from the Foundation for the Junior Blind attended the benefit party. At the end of the party, someone asked Michael what he thought about the event. Michael said quietly, "You know, really, this is what Christmas is all about - giving", Jackie described the concert for the blind children as "one of their most rewarding performances we have ever given." The children had learned the lyrics to some of the group’shits and were prepared for the show, which for the most part, turned into a sing-a-long. At other parties for children who had no Christmas gifts, The Jackson Five dressed as Santa Clauses and passed out presents.
Jackie, along with his brothers, thinks their fans are the most, important people in their lives. "Without them we’re nothing," he says honestly. "They have made us famous and popular and we owe everything we are to them." The Jackson brothers are all very close. There are no favorite brothers. "Each of the guys has something about him I like, so I can’t pick one over the rest," says Tito. “Jermaine and Michael are great singers. Jackie and Marlon can really dance and then there are personal things they each mean to me."
"When you're like a family and grow up together," explains quiet Marlon, "you know each other and that’s sort of like a safety chain for us."
With the strong chain that holds the Jackson family together, the brothers will have a wonderful holiday this year.