If you’ve read my most previous blog (*and if you haven’t, go there first!*), you already know a bit about my fondness for Christmas/holiday tunes. I can cheerfully enjoy it alone (and frequently do, as my husband tends towards the Grinch end of the scale when it comes to Christmas music), but as with many things, the experience is accentuated by sharing it with others. In 1989, while in my first semester of college, I learned that many of my friends there appreciated my Yuletide music sharing over the campus voicemail system. I took my role as disseminator of joy very seriously; so seriously, in fact, that until I undertook the challenge of making a mixtape for Will this past year in 2022 (*check out that adventure here*), a holiday music mixtape was the record holder (no pun intended) for the lengths to which I would go for the sake of analog amusement.
At some point in high school between 1985 and 1988, I filled a blank 90-minute cassette with favorite Christmas songs from vinyl belonging to my parents. This tape, special because of the sentiments it stirred up, had become an essential ingredient of the holiday experience for me, and was the sole source for the musical clips I shared over voicemail during the Decembers of 1989 and 1990. Until…
… the 1991 Thanksgiving break, when misfortune threatened my Yuletide bliss! As I prepared to return to school to finish the semester, I simply could not locate my trusty holiday mixtape anywhere amongst my belongings at home, where I expected it to be. While I was distressed by this on a personal level, I was even more upset at the prospect of missing out on my musical connection with friends at school. I didn’t have enough time left at home to make a new tape, and I didn’t have enough space in my dorm room at school to set up my stereo. I don’t recall how long I let myself wallow in sorrow, but I do know I rose out of my funk with a problem-solving plan, and after making a phone call, I returned to campus with a new blank cassette and all the vinyl Christmas records from which I had previously pulled songs.
The recipient of my urgent phone call was a college friend named Jonathan whose parents’ home was within an hour’s drive from the college campus, and who, more importantly, had a car. I asked Jonathan if he had a stereo at his home, and then requested for him to take me there ASAP after we had both returned to campus so that I could recreate my Christmas tape. I’m not certain he understood my dedication to the mission, but he didn’t question it, and graciously agreed to deliver me so that I could make use of his tape deck and turntable. I’m also not certain of what his parents thought of this person whom they barely knew, essentially inviting herself over and sequestering herself up in their son’s bedroom. But I do recall feeling grateful and relieved as I tucked myself into that bedroom corner on the Sunday evening before resumption of classes, and one by one I lowered the needle on each song from the missing tape, in the same order from my memory (plus a few extra; this new cassette was 100 minutes!).
Jonathan visited with his parents downstairs and occasionally checked on my progress. I didn’t leave the vicinity of the stereo, except for a bathroom break, until the tape was complete. I believe it was quite late when we left for our return journey to campus, but my happiness at the result of my efforts overshadowed any lack of sleep. As I type this I am hoping I thanked his parents for humoring my odd visit. I’m also hoping I adequately thanked my friend for his part in dispelling my distress. It’s possible I’d eventually have found another solution to my problem, but as it turned out, he sure saved Christmas for me that year. (Epilogue: The original beloved mixtape did eventually resurface, well into the 90s.)
Happy New Year wishes to you, reader, and may you be supported by trusting friends as you navigate your way through all creative (and practical!) adventures in 2023.