Today, while I was in the locker room at Sol-Sporex (located in one of the lower levels of the SolBridge International School of Business), one of the more upscale fitness clubs I have worked out at here in Korea, I heard the Second Movement of Antonin Dvorak’s New World Symphony playing in the background.
And in a split second, as I heard the familiar piccolo solo and strings of this composition, I was transported back in a time—21 years to be exact—to a cold Sunday afternoon before Christmas in Hamamatsu, Japan as I waited in the lobby of a community center dressed as Santa Claus (with two pillows underneath my baggy costume to have some semblance to that jolly man in red) before I was to make my grand entrance at a children’s Christmas party.
While I was waiting to make my grand entrance back on that Sunday in 1989, I was listening to some local orchestra perform Dvorak’s symphony in an adjacent concert hall.
It’s funny how music has a way of opening up one’s memory and transporting one back in time. I was immediately overcome with a wave of holiday blues and nostalgia, as I sat there listening to one of my favorite symphonies, tying my shoes. In fact, the holiday blues and nostalgia were so strong I could hardly move. I just sat there, listening to the beautiful sounds of this symphony thinking about 1989, the first year I taught English overseas, and this year in Daejeon, my 20th year teaching English in Korea.
Whenever I heard this symphony, I will always think back to that year I taught English in Japan, when I first embarked on this noble profession. I am reminded of all the dreams I once had and the passion and enthusiasm that filled my life then and still fills my life now. Though bittersweet at times, especially when spending the holidays alone, it is part of the music, the soundtrack of my life.
And the hits keep on coming and coming.
I never imagined this essay would be so popular, but then again it is about Christmas cards and maybe more people are sending them this year. I most certainly did!
Check it out (if you haven’t already).
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
The other night, a song reminded me of a girl from a long, long time ago.
It is funny how the mind works and what you might remember at any given moment; or what memories might be triggered by something you smell, hear, taste, or see.
The other night, I was listening to this song “Hospitality on Parade” (1975) by the group Sparks and it reminded me of eating Christmas cookies my grandmother baked and Pat Hardy, this girl I sort of had a crush on back in high school. I had bought the band’s 8-Track Indiscreet and was listening to it a lot back in 1975 around the holidays and when I was hanging out with Pat and some of her friends on the east side of LaSalle, going to lunch with her and friends to McDonald’s, or stopping to visit her at work at Bergner’s before I went to work across the street at K-Mart.
One memory begets another memory.
I was walking down the street, coming home from a long day at the language institute the other night, with this song on my iPod when I happened to look up at the second floor of this beauty shop across the street and noticed a light on in the window. The building looks more western in design than most of the homes and buildings on this street—western in that it didn’t have a blue or red tile roof.
For a split second, when I saw that light on in the window, with the drapes drawn, that song by Sparks playing, the cold, foggy night, thinking of Christmas, I was instantly teleported back in my mind to December 1975. It reminded me of Pat’s house and the times we hung out with each other.
Those days and nights back in 1975 were a fleeting moment of innocence that would be gone forever. Six months later, I was in the Air Force and although Pat and I exchanged many letters the first couple of months I was in the military, I would only see her four times in the next thirty-three years.
The other night though, for as long as it took for those memory tumblers to click into place, I got to see an old friend in my memories as I walked home.
What would the holidays be without some vintage Christmas, holiday cartoons and animated films to enjoy?
Aside from some of the perennial holiday favorites like “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” there are some holiday favorites that you may not have heard of like these three animated films/cartoons which were popular on WGN’s Channel 9 TV out of Chicago.
Soon, you will be humming or whistling, “I’m Hardrock, I’m Coco, I’m Joe!”
That’s right, with just a little over two weeks until Christmas it is time to start cranking out those Christmas and holiday cards. If you are like me, when you send Christmas cards you and want to write something special, you will find the essay at the link above quite interesting and useful.