The Gifts of Music

Now that I started this, I spend a lot of time thinking about what to write. The best ideas come when I am nowhere near a place to jot it down or save it. Like a grocery list, I would likely misplace it anyway.

So I got to thinking about what is the best gift I have ever received. And it gets hard to think back over nearly 50 years and what were big gifts or small things. In a family of 6 kids, we didn’t get a lot of presents, and it is hard to remember if quality overtook quantity. But as I look back, I want to say the best gift I ever got was the gift of music.

I don’t know the occasion, but when I was probably around 10, maybe 11, Dad bought my sister Marge and I radios that were a stuffed animal (a dog) from Radio Shack. We each got one, which was smart, I probably would have started a Battle Royale if I had to share mine with my stinky little sister.

At that time in our lives, the parents were not really living together anymore. My older brothers probably had a little better grasp of the situation at the time, but after years of ups and downs of Mom’s mental illness battles, Dad was moving on with his new love, our stepmom Dar, and the divorce was imminent if it hadn’t already happened. I missed Dad being around a lot, and the age differences between us kids left me feeling a little lonely. The 3 brothers were just old enough that I was a pain in the ass, and I basically felt the same about my younger sister and brother. So as it turned out, that little dog radio was something I could literally embrace and it was all mine.

We grew up with music around us all the time, really. Mom had been with the Sweet Adelines barbershop quartet whenever she was healthy enough, and she loved music. Lots of albums from soundtracks, The Mamas and Papas and other good ones from that era. My older brothers had a record player upstairs, mostly off limits to me. And for God’s sake, don’t touch their albums!! So for the first time, I had my own music. That radio was mine!

I would listen to Casey Kasem Top 40 countdowns, stay up late listening to WKAU (that’s going way back!) and it was all mine. Marge would listen to hers too, but I felt like I had found my own little world. I don’t know how long those radios lasted, it was typical Radio Shack quality, so probably not long. It wasn’t long before I moved on to an actual Panasonic radio that was AM/FM and very technologically advanced compared to the Dog Radio. But I loved that Dog Radio, and the memory of that, and what it meant to me really gives me all the feels all these years later.

Gifts are nice to give, and to receive. The thought behind choosing them can be even better than the actual present. I probably have received more expensive or thoughtful gifts. My dad was an impulse purchase kind of guy, and he likely saw those and said to himself, they’re not that expensive, I will grab one for each of the girls. He didn’t know how much it would mean all these years later. I know I didn’t know until I really started thinking about it. But that little gift of my own music is amazing, and there are some songs I hear that still take me back to that little dog, snuggling with it in bed and dreaming of better days.

So, what is the “best” gift you ever got? I hope this finds you thinking of the giver, as well as the gift. Both are incredibly important, and one never comes without the other.

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