Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Remembering vinyl

If you are under 50 you are probably wondering what is so special about these strange black clocks with small circular indentations in them. If you are over 50 you will know that these clocks are made out of old vinyl records. Only people who are over 50 will remember dancing to one of these. I think it is cool that old records are now used to make clocks--using the past to tick time away.

When I showed someone under 21 this bunny clock and said it was made out of a record, he said 'Record of what?' as in 'Did that bunny set a record?' Only people who were around for a long time will remember vinyl--unless you're a hipster. If you were a 'collector' in the 50's and 60's you know vinyl. If you were 'of the 70's' you had tapes and a tape deck. If you were of the 80's and 90's you had c.d.'s and if you are after that-- as in around the age of consent, then you have nothing. You steal from Torrents.

I wonder what they will make clocks with in 40 years for today's youth?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas of yore

You know you are old when you can sing songs like Come oh Come Emanuel.A young friend of mine thought it was a porn site. If you think that Joy to the World! is a song and not someone on acid then you are old.

The public schools are now non-denominational and have been for a long time. They aren't going to celebrate the religious component of Christmas any more than they will do Ramadan. The result of this policy of political correctness is that people under 30 or even 40 may know Frosty the Snowman, but have never learned or even heard these religious Christmas songs in School. They have never done the nativity play or even know what 'nativity' means.(I love the outfit on the magi in this nativity picture.) This is especially true in the under 25 age group. I learned this recently when I wrote an article mentioning the 'gift of the Magi'. I had several emails and letters asking me what the magi was. One young person asked if a magi was a Canadian-- sort of like an Eskimo only more esoteric.

I remember my Grandmother who grew up on an Indian Reservation in Salamanca, New York, thought it was tragic that I didn't know how to make Christmas tree ornaments. She had made balls of spun sugar and made ginger-men in hats,etc. She thought Christmas ornaments bought from stores deprived children of learning to create their own beauty on the tree. My mother just rolled her eyes at this sentiment and said 'So the world has changed. What's her problem?"

I am just being nostalgic. Who is to say that my childhood was great and all children should know religious Christmas carols? I didn't make my own Christmas tree ornaments and I am not going to hell in a hand-basket-- or am I the last to know? It is just that as we get older the group who shares 'old' memories gets smaller and smaller.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Stuff old people like for Christmas season

I have been visiting several small towns in New York State recently to publicize my book After the Falls. I was even in Lewiston for two days - the town I grew up in and wrote my first book about. I notice that Christmas is bigger in small towns than it is in cities. In Toronto, where I live now, there are whole suburbs where people don't observe Christmas at all.

Women of a certain age in small towns own a Christmas sweater. It is always red or green and usually has a picture of a Christmas tree on it or sometimes it has Santa's reindeer or his sled. If you are really bold you have a picture of Santa, himself, with his beard made of curly yarn. If you are not really that old but as they say, on the cusp of old , you may have a reindeer that lights up with a little flat battery in Rudolph's nose on your sweater. The Christmas sweater comes out of mothballs on December 1st and stays out until the epiphany on January 6th. (a Christian holiday celebrating the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus.) The Sweater is often accompanied by Christmas tree earrings a Christmas pin on their winter coat lapel.

Christmas socks are also de rigour. I have several pairs of these. Since my husband is Jewish and I am sort of Catholic, I have one pair of socks with a menorah (Jewish seven-branched candelabrum for Hanukkah) and a Christmas pair with Angels.If I close my legs at my ankles in a certain way I can trip the battery and the glittering angels start to sing Silent Night. It is always a hit.

Another feature of Christmas in small towns is the Christmas tree decorating store. It is open all year--languishing while the aging proprietor gets even older. Then in December it springs to life with whirling ornaments and is packed with people eating tiny free candy canes.

I prided myself on my tree ornaments. They had been in my family for four generations. Some were given to my Grandmother's father who was an Indian agent on the Salamanca Reservation in the 1800's. One was an Indian mother in a white leather fringed dress carrying a tiny papoose on her back.

You will, no doubt, have noticed that I used the phrase had been above. Well I stored them at our farm in the basement last year. I didn't know at the time that the old basement with its rubble walls and earthen floor was not impervious to chipmunks. Unbeknownst to me the crafty critters scampered in after mating season looking for material for nest building. They ripped off (literally) most of the ornaments and the paper they were wrapped in. All the feathers on the decorative bird ornaments were gone.I found them denuded and forlorn in their boxes.

The farmer who cuts the hay on our farm and visits the barn frequently (More frequently than my husband who has never been in it) told me he found several chipmunk nests. When he brought a few into the house I was amazed by how much they glittered and looked like pieces of primitive Christmas art. They were large, the size of a large cooking pot and they had ornaments all woven through stalks of hay and Kleenex, wood chips and milkweed pods. The nests were festooned with red cardinal feathers, Santa's beards and fake cranberry chains. One nest actually had wound hay around a bulb bought at the Saint Louis World's Fair in 1904. An ornament of a Victorian woman had been stripped of her maroon velvet gown. She was shamefully abandoned in the basement, face down wearing only her bustle and pantaloons. Her dress had been shredded in a nest.

I was sad about all of this loss, especially since it was all I had left of my family Christmases. My parents are dead and I am an only child. However, I decided that what was once so precious to me has now been spread around the universe and has even been shared with other species-- I am giving my gift of the magi to the chipmunks. What an epiphany!