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Time Capsule

Updated: Dec 27, 2019


When someone dies you are not ready to remember. Sometimes it can take years to let the sharp edges heal. Christmas seems apropos to begin to re-calibrate the memories, to embrace the history softened by time.

Beginning with the first days of December, we start the rotation of Dad’s phonograph albums: Andy Williams, Bing, Dino, even some obscure names like Al Hirt, The Singing Nun, the Chimes of Westminster; a few blessed children’s’ classics including The Little Drummer Boy and Puff the Magic Dragon equally circulate. But Christmas Day is reserved for the Big Bands, particularly Glen Miller. Today is the 75 year anniversary of his death so it seems prophetic to recollect Dad prepping cocktails: Pink Squirrels, Grasshoppers, Old Fashions for Mom, a Manhattan on the rocks with a twist, Dad’s drink of choice. Everyone is decked out in their evening best: sport coats for the men, new holiday dresses for the ladies, Mom in the latest Christmas Bling.

This year I broke the seal on an odd album: Cruising Memories, The Bense Bands Way, compliments of the National Asphalt Association. I accompanied my folks on one of Dad's work trips: a cruise aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2. It was January 4-14, 1972. I was four. This is me goofing off in their stateroom. I wish I could recall the story behind these antics.

When I listen to Moonlight Serenade or 12th Street Rag, I can hear Dad clinking glasses through the heating vents at the bar, post the annual Christmas party long after folks returned home, working late into the wee hours of the morning, allowing him to imbibe just a bit longer. Or I flashback to him dancing in his squivies sliding across the parquet floor in the loft up north, certainly overindulged in that episode; but still funny now.

The music on this specific album was recorded live so when I hear the clapping between sets my heart listens for Mom and Dad in the audience. I am dressed in a full length glittered skirt fashioned by Aunt Lorraine made just for this occasion sitting ring side at the same table. We were all alive then, young and full of promise, our futures ahead.

What object in your home sparks a flashback in time? Is it a specific ornament; perhaps an annual recipe? Is it guarded closely, untouched; or do you allow yourself to modify it ever so slightly, contemporize-it, make it more your own? I welcome you to share your memory.

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