The Christmas Stereo

It was 1979.

All I wanted for Christmas was a record player.

I don’t remember anyone calling them “turntables”. Unless you were a professional DJ like Wolfman Jack.

Knowing my parents had a very tight budget, I say “budget” here because it was confusing.

And Christmas was no exception.

I showed the record player that I wanted at Bi-Rite. I think it was about $20. I even offered to pay half from my chore money to get it for Christmas.

I was so unprepared for Christmas morning. There was this enormous box under the Christmas tree. In fact, there were two. One addressed to me the other to my sister.

When we opened the boxes, here’s something close to what was inside:

Photo from

This isn’t at all what I had asked for. I knew things were tight because of eating the meat and fish from hunting, heating the house with wood, buying dented canned goods from Rainbow.

And here was this mixed message. I didn’t want to seem ungrateful, So I said a pleasant “thank you” And it got hooked up in my room somehow.

It served me for many years all throughout my teenage life until boomboxes came onto the scene.

It is now become a symbol. A symbol of parents feeling the pressure to please their children at any expense. Though it brought me joy listening to music, it also brought with it a tugging sadness- A constant reminder that we were struggling financially and that we couldn’t afford that kind of Christmas.

If I could go back in time as a grown woman today, I would hug my parents and tell them “please just get her the record player. Kids know. They really do.”


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