t is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.
– Charles Dickens
My favorite dinner was bubbling away on the stove… a hearty beef and tomato broth to which mom had just dropped in lovely pillows of basil and meat-filled goodness, lightly browned and fresh from the oven. A homemade “Old Country” delight from Grandma’s recipe box… and one I could never get enough of. I peered through the now slightly steamy windows for the hundredth time, then squealed… Dad’s home!
That meant dinner would soon be on the table! Oh how hard and long it was to wait sometimes for Dad to wend his way home on crowded freeways. Most often, he couldn’t get here until 6:30 or so. Today, Mom had allowed us each to sample a little meat dumpling before dropping the others to melt into the broth.
But only a bite.
“Your father is tired and hungry too,” Mom would remind us when we got antsy, “and I think he deserves to have us all eat with him. Even more so with Christmas on the way.”
But now he was here and the wait was over. Well, until he changed his suit and washed his hands. Happily, I reached for the bowls from Mom, set the table… soup spoons on the right…
Dad’s eyes looked mysterious as he came in, hands behind his back. Suddenly, I thought of how he worked at a downtown radio station and…sometimes… he would bring us a special new record album, stamped PROMOTIONAL across the top. One of the perks the station allowed him to choose for us. Like the soundtrack of one of our favorite movie musicals, “Damn Yankees,” that he’d surprised us with a bit ago. My sister and I had been re-enacting movie scenes with that for weeks now! Or the time he’d presented Mom with a recording by someone named Vic Damone… one of her all-time favorites. My eyes watered with laughter even now, remembering how hilarious that had turned out…
We didn’t have our new stereo then… only an old portable suitcase with an actual record player inside it! Instantly, she’d pulled that out, put on the new record, and promptly fallen into that dreamy-eyed state she always got when a heart-melting voice soared her heart. The same one she fell into whenever a symphony played and she told us about her days playing violin in a real live stage orchestra – and the thrill of hearing each instrument almost as if they played inside her as she lifted her bow…
“Kathy just has to hear this… right now!” she enthused, quickly dialing her best friend from down the street.
Hearing the phone pick up on the other line, Mom spoke urgently into it. “Don’t say anything! Just listen to this!” Quickly, she placed the receiver next to the suitcase player, letting one song play in full. When it was over, she breathed into the phone… “Oh, wasn’t that — beautiful!”
“WHO IS THIS?” boomed a loud, cranky voice from the receiver in Mom’s hand.
Mom held the phone away from her ear a moment, confusion…then comprehension… moving across her face like a cloud shadow racing across our yard. “Oh… my…goodness,” she spluttered. “Guess I have the wrong number — Sorry!”
All of us had stopped in our tracks, staring open-mouthed at Mom. Then…suddenly, there we were – holding our sides and wiping away tears as Mom imitated the hissing voice on the other line, hands on hip. “Who……IZzzzzz… THIS!”
“How crazy that they even stayed on the phone…listening!” we’d screamed, nearly rolling on the floor with giggles.
But now… Dad was standing there on another night with a new surprise behind his back. “What is it?” my sister and I began to dance around him.
He held it out for us to see. A beautiful red cover with a young man who had a nice smile. And on the back, that man had written Happy Holidays in white ink… I held it, tracing my finger over those cursive letters I was still learning to write.
“It’s a new one that’s hitting all the charts,” Dad explained. “Andy Williams…”
“Put it on, girls!” Mom told us, ladling out our soup.
Soon, White Christmas and Chestnuts Roasting crooned warmth and peace into our kitchen. Happy Holidays was adding a tingle to our dinnertime. And a fun, wild new version of Jingle Bells had our feet jitterbugging beneath the table. (That record would eventually have to be replaced because of years of scratches my sister and I caused by moving the needle to play again and again…) But even more… when we turned to the other side – there were the most heart-stirring renditions of O Holy Night, Away in the Manger and one I’d never heard before… Sweet Little Jesus Boy. Setting wings to my soul. Singing heaven to my heart. Just like such glorious music always did to Mom’s…
I looked at her then with shining eyes. And I knew…we both felt it.
Angel songs that take flight in our hearts and stay… singing heaven’s joy over us and in us, children once more… And – at Christmas – always.
© Pam Depoyan
Has music left a yet-to-be-fulfilled dream inside of you?
I’ve often wondered what hidden musical talents I might have. I think of the gifts that have run through my family. Papa and his beautiful operatic voice. Mom and her violin. Her sister and the piano. My father, a child prodigy of piano… I think of how my fingers naturally move in rhythm to any music I hear, as if I’m playing… something…
I thought of that again today as I read a story about my friend Diane’s secret dream from childhood on… and the music and worship still singing in her this Christmas. She writes:
Pssst!… Won’t you join me over at http://warmtheheart.blogspot.com/2011/12/its-christmas-secret.html to finish this story? Another lovely Christmas carol celebrating the child in us all…
This was my 100th post! 🙂