Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy VCR Day!

It’s VCR Day around here.

Nobody uses VCRs anymore. You can’t buy tapes or rent movies in that format, not even from the library. But once upon a time that was cutting edge technology, and it figured prominently into our post-Christmas traditions.

Gather ‘round, children – Grampa gonna tell you a story. Now fetch Grampa some whiskey, little one, and sit back.

Christmas is always a hectic season, no matter what claims people make regarding “taking it easy this year” or “not giving in to the pressure.” There’s food to prepare, guests to take in, places to go, people to see, and it’s all great stuff really and lucky to have such high-grade problems, but it does wear a body out nonetheless.

When I was in junior high and high school, my family decided that the day after Christmas was just going to be a time out. We weren’t going to go anywhere. We weren’t going to do anything of any productive value. We might not even get out of our jammies, depending on how ambitious we as individuals felt. We’d eat leftovers and take-out pizza. We’d lock the doors and take the phone off the hook (yes, one phone line, and it did have phones on hooks). It was just a catch your breath kind of day.

This was back around 1980 or so, when VCRs were still fairly new technology and very expensive – far more than we were willing to spend, anyway.

But you could rent them.

Yes! Children, imagine that – people would actually rent VCRs! Temporarily! Yes, I know you can stream movies directly onto your retinas these days, but remember that this is ancient history, almost as old as that whiskey I just finished (hint, hint, little one…).

So my dad would head over to the local minimart – which was, come to think of it, a rather new idea as well, at the time. A gas station that sold groceries? No, gas stations sold petroleum products and things that got covered in such – they did not sell sodas or candy bars back then.

No, I have not had too much whiskey! This is how it was back then! Times were hard!

Where was I?

My dad would go over to the minimart and rent a VCR for the holiday, and a pile of movies on tape. We’d spend much of the morning after Christmas hooking the thing up (yes, with wires – everything had wires back then – now let me drink talk). Eventually that would get solved, and there would be movies.

All. Day. Long.

These were not edifying movies, either. They were funny. They were loud. They were completely without redeeming social qualities and generally not the sort of things you’d remember after the credits finished rolling, but that was precisely the point.

We don’t necessarily watch movies on the day after Christmas anymore, but I still like to keep this day clear of any real responsibility. You need a day to relax, a day not to be sociable or neat, a day to do nothing of any productive value.

Happy VCR Day to all of you out there.

Now where’s that next whiskey?

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