Video Cassette

May 25, 2010
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Grandma was over, again. She was over a lot lately, after her own mothers passing. She wasn’t baring gifts or candies this time though, she carried an old brown grocery bag. She placed it on the table; sister was running down the hall to greet her.

The three of us sat at the table, I occupied myself with the Sunday comics while they chatted up the drama their friends had pressed upon them. New shoes, new booze and Friday nights baseball game. Then the point came where my younger sibling ran bored and departed back down the hall to her cavern.

It was only quiet for a moment, until Grandma smacked her hands together, telling me to lead downstairs, to the television. I did so, and set up the VCR as she requested. She sat on the old leather couch with her large bag. And before I could hurry up the stairs I was told to play the first of many six hour recorded tapes from which the bag was full.

I returned to the easy chair and kicked back, questioning how fast I could fall asleep. When I looked up at the lit screen, there were people walking into a Christmassy decorated house; more than thirty people where there as the view spun around the small living room. Mouths were moving, and I realized the faded colors of the late 1950s had no voices. But my grandmother spoke for them all: Explaining who was married to whom, which children belonged to who, and pointed out some of the elders who I actually had met before. We watched as she wove the tale of Christmas at the Birches House.

We were downstairs a long while, as she shared the stories the motion picture showed, with all the little fine points in between. Afterwards, I couldn’t remember all twelve names of Aunt Gracie’s children, but I could recall my distant family member’s happiness of one time. Something that seems to be trapped in the old tapes.

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