The Christmas Cassette Tape

When I was a kid, our family had a nice big console stereo for which my dad traded a perfectly beautiful console color television. The Magnavox color TV was the first one on our block. I don’t know if it was fear of being a trend-setter, or thinking his children were bound to go astray if we were allowed to see the Addams Family in living color, but he didn’t let it stay in the house.

One of the delights of Christmas was playing all of our Firestone and Goodyear albums. I always started playing them while I made extra Halloween decorations for the front window.

I don’t remember how I ended up with all those great albums, but I was determined our children would grow up listening to the same Christmas music I did. No one sang “The Holiday of Love” like the King Family. Now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever heard that song except on the Firestone album.

In 1981, I decided to put all of our favorite Christmas songs on a cassette tape. I copied all of the best ones, like Johnny Mathis singing “The Christmas Song,” “Do You Hear What I Hear?” by Andy Williams, and the great Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.”

Cassette tape from 1981 with Christmas music.

By the time our triplet sons were three years old, they were well into doing all the things three-year-olds do. They discovered the buttons on our portable stereo. Jon showed the other two how to push them.

While I was listening to the Christmas tape, Robert Goulet singing “Oh Holy Night,” was interrupted by silence. Then it popped back on. Then silence again, only this time there was Jon’s voice, “See?” he asked. He was obviously giving a demonstration to his brothers.

A short time later, another song was interrupted, only this time, Jon said, “No!” and the music started again. Thirty-five years later, we treasure the sound of that little voice.

I wanted to make copies of the Christmas tape for the kids. I searched for the best way to do it and found a little electronic miracle machine that made cassettes digital, which could then be copied to CDs. Hot dog!

CD-DVD writer, and audio cassette to MP3 converter.

After a bunch of trial and error, I was finally able to make a digital copy of the cassette using the converter and my computer. Then I had to figure out how to get it from my computer to a CD.

After lots more trying and failing, I decided to buy a CD writer, as the one in my computer was obviously not working right. Success!

The next challenge was trying to remember whether I actually made the CDs, or if I was just ready to make them. Jesse told me he remembered me saying I had the means to make the CDs, but he hadn’t received one yet. So, if I made them, I didn’t know where they were.

Four CD copies of Christmas music recorded on cassette.

I looked all over the house with no luck. I finally looked in my closet. Why wouldn’t Christmas CDs be in my closet? And that is where I found them, in a shoe box with the CD writer and the converter.

I gave one of the CDs to Jesse and Nikki before they moved to Australia. The other kids received theirs this week.

After sixty years, the Firestone and Goodyear Christmas albums are still filling our homes with beautiful music. There is a little bit of scratchy sound from the needle on the records, and the voice of a three-year-old, who now has three of his own.

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