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Last year when we cleared out our parent’s house (1976-2020) we took trinkets of our time therein. Hardly anyone took anything of value or bulk. What we wanted were mawkish things, to remind us of our youth. As an example, I took the avocado green plastic butter dish; it makes me think of our kitchen back in Grosse Pointe Woods.

I also took was Father’s collection of Christmas music recorded on cassette tape. Every Christmas morning he recorded off the radio their morning programme of carols. We heard these while eating Christmas breakfast and opening our prizes. Curiously, I don’t recall him every playing them after they were made. The next year he merely made another. Eventually he stopped doing this, apparently having lost interest in doing so, or there was no more room in the cassette tape holder (remember those?). The recordings were crudely made that he didn’t bother to edit them. Most of them start in the middle of a tune already in progress. Last year I got a cassette player that allowed me to hear them. They hadn’t been played in nearly two decades.

I was curious to hear what was there. The tunes are ‘background’ style of familiar carols. There are a lot of violins. Once in awhile there are vocals, mostly Johnny Mathis or one of that crowd. What I didn’t remember is the music stops once in awhile for the radio host to announce “This is WJR (or) this is WFMT in Detroit). There are also commercials. I think I like these better than the music. They sound ’80s’ and ’90s’ and have a quaint quality to them.

I plan on playing these ancient recordings as background music next month while I do things about the house. They may not be ‘quality’, but they remind me of Christmases long long ago, like an ornament made from paper and Elmer’s glue you made in grade school that your parents put on the tree every year next to the proper ornaments.

Cassette tapes are ephemeral; they do not last. Over time the recordings fade. Often they ‘warp’ or become a snarl. A part of me thinks I should translate them to the computer but

a) it will take a long time

and

b) it probably doesn’t matter.

In the long run the memory of these tapes is more important than their contents, which are admittedly a bit cheesy. Maybe I will save a few of them, particularly the ones with some vocals. After all, nothing sounds quite like Christmas than Mr. Mathis singing about chestnuts roasting on an open fire, followed by an ad for a Detroit business now defunct.

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