December 17, 2021 Message to Members
One day in the hallway, just outside the theatre doors, I was waiting on a class to arrive for our assembly. On a table in the hallway with me I had set my old iPod from which I was going to play a song. It was a chunky 4th generation model, with a click-wheel. In its day, it was the bomb with 20 gig of memory to hold thousands of songs and a colour screen, too! The grade nines arrived, and one of the boys stopped to chat with me for a moment. He noticed the iPod and picked it up, turning it as he raised it for inspection. By the expression on his face, you would have thought he was examining some fossilized relic, some primitive technology that should be under glass in a museum. He exclaimed, “What is this?!” I recovered my antique and made no excuses for clinging to the past. For even though I had a much newer iPhone in my pocket, with which I could access 50 million songs, I took comfort in the boxy little music player from the turn of the century. It firmly holds a place among my collected treasures.
As I type this, the music playing in the background I first captured on this chunky iPod. Although legally questionable, Napster enabled me to download a December soundtrack from my childhood, and the sounds of the Vince Guaraldi Trio set a wistful mood in these diminishing days of winter.
Over the years, I have accumulated many treasures which give me comfort although their ‘best before’ date expired long ago. These items saw daylight for the first time in years during our down-sizing purge of 2021. In the process of taking stock and shedding, I carefully considered the fate of all the pieces in my collection. I was ready to let some things go; but others, I was not.
An older musical treasure surfaced as I dug through the boxes labelled with my name. It was my Panasonic transistor radio that I could wear on my wrist. It is bright yellow, and I used to ride my bike around the neighbourhood with the radio looped on the handlebars. It came with me to the river in the summer so I could listen to CKLG and waste time catching crayfish. I bought it from my cousin for five dollars, even though my mom thought it was a waste of money. My cousin isn’t with us anymore, but I still remember our negotiations and hanging out with her and listening to News of the World.
Digging deeper into the layers of things, I found a small, wooden lock box: a gift from my mom. I kept my polished rocks and a miniature crate of ‘snowballs’ from Lake Tahoe hidden safely inside. The box is made of cedar wood, and its smell filled my senses every time I opened it to stash away another note from my crush, passed during class. In later years, the cedar box was home to my first bank account booklet and my first SIN card. My budding identity lay alongside candy, secrets, and turquoise stones, safely soaking in that beautiful scent.
Nearer to the bottom of my treasure trove, I found my Corgi Batmobile that shot a plastic flame from the exhaust pipe and my Lady Penelope pink Rolls Royce, with a rocket launcher behind the grill. I put many miles on each of these, racing them back and forth on the kitchen linoleum and running them into mom’s feet as she stood making dinner. These were gifts from my dad who probably liked watching Batman and The Thunderbirds more than I did!
Looking a little worse for wear because I didn’t find him new was my Mickey Mouse Skediddler. When I was much too old for toys, I found Mickey at a Christmas ‘garage sale’ held in the gym of Mary Hill Junior Secondary School one December. I remember rummaging through the collection of items for sale and finding Mickey in his yellow shirt and blue pants. I had so wanted one when I was a little boy, and my teen-self felt a rush of discovery and fortune. Although it was an inflated price, I was happy to spend the $3 it cost me to satisfy that little piece of childhood.
While not officially part of the treasure chest, I also scrutinized the shelves of VHS movies in the downsizing. Committed to a clean sweep, I packed them all into boxes which would come with me to Vancouver, from where they would land in the donation centres of local thrift stores. But not before one more stroll through the titles. Because I took another look, and despite having no device on which to play them, I rescued a few VHS Christmas movies, purchased as a twenty-something bachelor. I remember ordering the set of ‘classic’ children’s movies, which included the perennial Dr. Suess favourite, a snowman, and a stop-action animated Bumble. The sweet and suspensive anticipation of my childhood Decembers captured in a boxset that I would one day share with my own children. And I did.
These surviving items – actually, just thoughts of them – transport me in space and time. They each connect me to people and moments in my life, some ordinary or mundane, some sentimental and poignant. The collected items serve only as vehicles to the real gifts we treasure: the memories and emotions. When taking stock at the end of 2021, a year which has given us many moments of heartache and struggle to recall, what precious collectibles lay among those moments for you to gather up and keep safe?
In this season of gratitude and giving, I am thankful for the gift of serving BC’s Principals and Vice-Principals these last twelve months. For the coming year, I wish you peace and security. And as I wrap eNews for 2021, I gift you a little more Vince to dance you out on a Friday afternoon!
Soon enough, the daylight will begin to lengthen once more. Keep well and safe this holiday.