I was Skyping my parents a little while back, catching up on the happenings in Nebraska. At one point between trading stories on plays my parents attended and upcoming events at Gustavus, my mom said, “I’m feeling a little worried about you.” She says this almost every Skype session, which is endearing and maybe a little unnecessary.
In response, I said, “I’m fine,” but conceded that I occasionally feel a bit lonely, especially because my roommate was interning in D.C.
A few weeks later, I got a package in my P.O. box at Gustavus. It contained a mixtape CD from my dad, along with a three-page letter explaining each sone choice. The CD was named “We All Get Lonely.”
Mixtapes have been strangely present in my life since middle school. A friend of my mom sends her mixtapes. Those CDs play in Mom’s car until they are scratchy, skipping whole lines of music. When I noticed how much the CDs were treasured, I made one for a friend’s birthday. Then I made one for another friend.
When senior year of high school rolled around, I decided to make a CD called “Interim Time” for my graduating friends. The title came from a poem I liked. I labored over this CD, writing down song names, organizing the songs, and deciding which songs to delete to fit the CD’s storage space.
In the meantime, my dad decided to do the same for me. Only he didn’t hold back at one CD. He made eight. Each mixtape had two hours worth of songs on them. It was enough music for me to drive up to Gustavus and back to Lincoln.
Since then, he has made at least twelve more mixtapes for me.
Mixtapes somehow mean more to me than a regular CD or playlist. I think that is because I know how much time and thought goes into them. It is personalized. The creator is thinking specifically of what you might like, what would make you happy. I also think it’s very honest, because they are sharing music that they also enjoy.
I know that my dad was already working on a CD before our skype conversation. Yet my single comment had him completely reworking the mixtape, so he could include songs he thought I needed to hear.
That sort of thing makes me feel valued. When I’m driving home for the summer, I know exactly what I’ll be listening to.
I honestly think that mixtapes make the best kind of gifts. They are personalized, show you care, and are relatively cheap and easy to make. They are great gifts for anyone. Give them to family, friends, significant others.
Just spread the love.