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Christmases past on eBay

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Hey. Happy holidays.

My name is John. I'm an eBay addict.

It started so slowly. It was so much fun. It got out of control a few Christmases ago. I'm recovering now, back with the family. I don't get nearly as much e-mail.

Here's my story.

It all started with a wonderful Wurlitzer jukebox, a gift from my wife one spring.

I started buying and selling 45s on eBay to feed the behemoth and relive my adolescence. Soon I was buying box loads of singles from all over the country, pulling out the tunes I wanted to keep and relisting the rejects on my own eBay auctions.

One room of our house became my "warehouse," with thousands of records coming and going. My "wants" were modest. I simply wanted every single put out on Apple, the Beatles' label, every single that Brian Wilson or Phil Spector had anything to do with, and any song my wife or kids requested. Box loads of 45s came and went, from Kansas, California, Ohio, Anytown, USA. The hungry jukebox rocked every night.

Wheeling and dealing on eBay was totally fun and totally time-consuming. I hooked up with a Chicago company that still supplied 45s to clubs and bars with '60s jukeboxes. As the weather got cooler, I decided to expand my searches to that collecting niche of rock 'n' roll Christmas music.

My obsessive accumulation of Christmas singles, the weirder the better, tipped the psychic balance. I hit it just right. Within a few weeks, all I was playing was "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," "If We Make it Through December," and "Deck the Halls." Not the traditional versions mind you. I had the Red Hot Chili Peppers (on red vinyl!), The Ronettes, and four takes of "White Christmas" (would you want Billy Squire or Dean Martin, or "Blue Christmas" by Elvis or the Browns?). Prince weighed in with "Another Lonely Christmas." It came in a beautiful picture sleeve.

Picture sleeves contributed to my downfall. One late night I was bidding fast and furious on "a lot of picture sleeves." I thought I'd won the lottery a week later when the box arrived. But it seemed rather light. Alas, I'd been bidding fast and loose on a box of paper, no records, just the cover sleeves them selves. The printed title strips were cool though.

Three minute classics filled the air. My jukebox blared all those holiday Band Aid songs. One protest song by Timbuk 3 called "All I Want for Christmas" featured the lines "Secret sponsors place their bids, G.I. Joes for Contra Kids." Perry, Elton, Paul, Garth, and half a dozen little drummer boys came to the party but couldn't get rotation.

Dwight Yoakam crooned. So did The Eagles, Bon Jovi, Max Headroom and a couple of Bruces.

My family finally pulled the plug when I woke them up one December morning with The Singing Dogs version of "Jingle Bells," barking that holiday favorite. It was time to exit eBay.

It's much quieter now. No more Christmas serenades from the Judds, Amy Grant or Karen Carpenter. It's all CDs now, stacked in shuffle play mode.

Late at night, I'll still visit my eBay bookmark. To see how much Eminem's home's going for. Or to troll for pop culture, searching on the latest buzzword. But I never bid.

So don't tell me about that David Bowie/Bing Crosby RCA 45 or that limited edition T-Rex flexi that just popped up on auction. I'll just have to ask Santa.

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