Dearest Rachel –
I am so sorry…
You might recall, during the Christmas season, I had attempted to find an album from my childhood, with music I’d never to my knowledge heard anywhere else, but really thought ought to have wider exposure. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but I liked the songs, and wanted to share them with you. But I couldn’t figure out what album my folks had it on.
To refresh your memory (and I admit, I can’t sing in print, so I will just describe them as best I can, before… well, spoilers), one of the songs was a very bouncy calypso take on “Mary’s Boy Child;” another was entitled “Every Christmas is a Birthday” (well, it is, isn’t it?); and yet another was, essentially, the annunciation to the shepherds set to music with a bombastic male chorus as the heavenly hosts. It was really quite stirring, but I don’t think you’d ever heard it. Indeed, when I attempted to relate that last one to the folks a little earlier on, they didn’t seem to be able to place it.
But you know, it’s one of those little things that not everyone is going to notice or will register in their memory. I get it.
Anyway, I was pretty sure it was on one called ‘Happy Holidays’
and while we were on the zoom call with the extended family (as opposed to getting together for the traditional gathering and smorgasbord), you dug into the bookshelf in the corner behind Daniel’s rocking chair – which required the balancing skills of a circus performer, I might add – and pulled out a pile of Christmas albums that we’d taken from the folks in order to convert to mp3 format, but never got around to.
I flipped through the albums, and lo and behold, there were actually two copies of this album in there. Evidently, I’d made this search before, and bought our own copy of the album in the early days of our marriage, when we would take an annual trip out to Evanston (near the Northwestern campus) and go through the several used book and record stores for all manner of media to fill our house with. I’m guessing we found this and brought it home, and since the folks had a copy as well, now we had two in our possession.
But… the songs I was looking for weren’t on it.
So I couldn’t play them for you. And I still didn’t know what album they were on.
Yesterday, I woke up with the playlist in my mind, and realized that the album I was looking for was a completely different one. One that featured the Little Drummer Boy.
So here I am, waiting for Chompers to wake up so I can feed him before Joan comes to take me to the hospital, and I’m looking at the playlist, and just… sobbing.
Because I’d found what I had been looking to play for you… too late.
It’s too late for Christmas music. It’s too late to show you anything from my childhood. It’s just… too late.
Sometimes, memory can be so cruel.
Of course, the cleanup continues apace. Jan and Scott have been helping clear out the basement (including finding a hundred-dollar bill in a frame that you parents gave us as a tenth anniversary wedding present). One box they unearthed was full of choirbooks for a Christmas musical that we performed back in, I think, 1995 or so. The church threw out the books, but you decided to save them from the rubbish bin.
And, while I had played the role of the grandfather in the play, I had essentially forgotten about it until we found this box. I remember having been cast with Pat W the year before in a musical called Bethlehem Star as an old married couple, and in this one, she was now my daughter. Meanwhile, her daughter was played by a redheaded girl named Wendy (no, not that one – this Wendy had curly hair, not unlike little orphan Annie), and there was a neighbor boy played by a guy named Rick. The two of them were, I think, already dating in real life at the time, and got married not too long afterwards (at least, in comparison to the time since).
I wonder how Rick and Wendy are doing these days. I hope they’re still together.
I hope each of them still considers themselves blessed to have the other.
I’m afraid I consigned the majority of the books to the dumpster. But I kept one choir book and the director’s notebook, as a keepsake. Look, the church will never go back to doing plays or musicals again, and I’ll never be onstage again, either. I do still wish we could go back and enjoy those days again. But it’s too late for these Christmas carols, just like the songs I just re-discovered.
Still, thank you, honey, for having kept this. At least there are those memories, however dim, from those days, to fall back on.