Friday, December 09, 2011

A Time for Music...Sort Of...

What do you do when your children are invited to play their instruments for the Women's Union Christmas Luncheon...and your children are a bit, well, do I put this nicely....rhythm impaired and tone deaf?  Well, first you explain that they are beginners, and perhaps not as musically inclined as some might naturally be.  Then. after explaining that, and being told "We don't care at all, we just want to support them and encourage them, and are not looking for 'professional' musical talent.", you go ahead and accept, hoping all the while that they really meant what they said.

The kids spent the past 3 months or so working diligently to learn some Christmas carols on their instruments.  Kenny and Josh have each only been playing for 6 months, having decided to switch instruments, so Kenny is now on the violin and Josh is playing piano.  The girls have been at the guitar a year, and Matthew on the piano 2 1/2 years.  What makes it a little more challenging is that by comparison, the previous group of young people who were raised in the church were quite musically talented, able to play and sing quite well with many being in choirs in school or participating in local theater groups.

The LaJoy children, well...not so much. 

So the big day arrived yesterday, and everyone was running around the house all aflutter as they looked for music, ironed shirts, did some last minute practicing, and spent 30 minutes in front of the computer screen listening to Jose Feliciano's original version of "Feliz Navidad" a gazillion times so we could get Kenny to pronounce it correctly as he yelled..oh, I mean sang it.  Somehow he was hearing it as "Feliz NaviDOT, A Sparrow And A Fleecy Dot" .  That poor kid, if people only knew just how hard the simplest things are for him, like getting words right.  I was so thankful for the patience the other kids all showed as we worked together to try and help Kenny get the words right.  He literally can't hear what it is, his brain changes it all, and for the life of him he can not hear rhythmic patterns easily nor tell if he is sharp or flat on the violin, to the point that I can play a completely different note, and he can not tell if it is sharp or flat.  But that makes music even more important for him as a form of therapy to try and get him to hear sounds differently.

We get to church, and find that the Women's Union had thoughtfully laid places for us at the table, with little gifts for the kids.  We all eat together, then head to the Sanctuary for the musical presentation.  I can equate it only with being forced to sit through someone's hundreds of photos of their recent vacation.  I know many of the women live a distance from their own grandchildren, and some must have been thinking "Now this is what I don't miss at all, being forced to politely smile as my grandkid painfully makes their way through some ghastly song on an instrument."  At one point, fingernails on a blackboard would have sounded better.  Let no one ever say that I am not completely honest in assessing our kids' gifts, talents, and lack thereof.

But you know what?  You'd never have known it.

Perhaps they understood the time invested by the kids for this event.  Maybe they accepted it as the gift it was meant to be.  One woman sitting behind me, who used to be their Sunday School teacher, gasped not in horror but in delight at the end of each song, and applauded vigorously each and every time.  Most made gallant attempts not to chuckle or laugh outright...something that at moments I had a hard time not doing. 

When the end arrived and the kids broke down in hilarious giggles as they sang their beloved "Feliz Navidad" and couldn't even finish the song (Thank goodness for that!  Did I say no one can carry a tune in a bucket??), the entire group laughed along with them.  As the kids sang their very off key version of  "We Wish You A Merry Christmas", there were wide smiles and I hope the understanding that we all DID really wish them a blessed Christmas season, that the sentiment was there even if the talent was lacking a wee bit.

How kind the women all were, congratulating and hugging the kids, singing along with them as they headed back to the Hall where the gift exchange was going to be held.  So much encouragement, so much love was shared.  No one hung their head in shame as they might otherwise have done under different circumstances, each of the kids felt validated in their heartfelt attempts.  As bad as the kids were, and I am not kidding you or exaggerating, they were not good, I heard over and over "That was the best luncheon program we have ever had!", proving the old adage that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.   

What did I take pride in, if not their musical talent?  Oh, so much!  The kindness and respect the kids each showed the women, the way Matthew was so attentive to his music teacher and helped her get seated without me saying a word to him.  It was easy to see the young men and women they are becoming as they each wore their KMart Christmas finery...hahaha!  Looking at the girls, in particular, they just looked so mature.  I loved seeing how they all pitched in to help clean up at the end of the event, and the excitement the kids expressed as they couldn't wait to give each woman in attendance a gift they had made...fused glass Christmas pins that were boxed and bagged by the kids and depicted Rudolph, Christmas Trees, and Packages...they deeply enjoyed the "giving" of their gift. 

We may not be raising musicians of note, but we are hopefully raising beautiful young people whose character is strong and whose love is offered abundantly.  They each have talents of their own, but part of their talent might just be in being willing to tackle the hard things and continue to work diligently at them even if it doesn't come naturally.  No one will know the hours of work that it took for the kids to be even this bad at music! Hahahaha!  And someday, who knows?  Actually, when one considers the challenges they each have...Kenny with his auditory processing issues, the girls having only a single American Christmas under their belt and only hearing most of these carols one year, Josh being at the piano a mere 6 months, and Matthew not having a natural affinity for music but loving it anyway...they each did just fine and exhibited great confidence.  That's more important than talent, as that confidence will branch out into areas in which they DO have talent and will serve them well one day.

Most importantly, they know they are loved...and a few women know that love is returned.  Isn't that a little of what Christmas is all about?

Our wonderfully supportive Women's Union, who helps make summer camp possible for all our church kids!

The Gift Exchange...Kenny had a picnic basket for a short time until it was exchanged for a nutcracker.

We all cracked up when Joshie got books about "Old Age", but they too were exchanged for flashlights.

I know others have cuter kids, but I happen to think they are the most beautiful God ever created!!!
What blessed parents we are, and serendipitously I think the banner behind them says it all.


Joyce said...

I love love love that last photo - they all look so smart!!!!!

The Gobble's (Lanetta) said...

I LOVE that last photo too... Their K-mart dudes are gorgeous! :) Cindy... They are precious and such amazing kiddos! Praying for you always... -Lanetta

Anonymous said...

In reference to the tag line of the last (gorgeous) photo--no, no one has cuter or more beautiful kids. You are right, they are the most beautiful God ever made. That said, so are mine and yours and yours--God makes beautiful children--not perfect but all beautiful.

Your children gave a professional, thoughtful, delightful program. It was the very best we have ever had. We clapped. We cried. We even giggled behind our hands. We leaned forward and urged notes to come out under striving hands. We heard the hours of practice, the hearts poured into the music, the gifts of the music composers. We have heard musicians that can play perfectly yet have no soul, no emotion in their music. Yesterday we heard musicians that poured heart and soul into the music. How could it not have been the very best program we have ever had.

And your children gave all of us another gift beyond the beautiful pins we now proudly wear for Christmas, they gave us genuine caring, acceptance, a blindness for our infirmities and greying hair. They gave us unstinted love--as do you and Dominick.

You truly do know how to keep Christmas.

Thank you,

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a fantastic day, Cindy! I'm so glad for all of you -- performers and listeners alike!
Love, peace, and blessings!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I wish I could have been there, Your children are AMAZING... abd beautiful too.
Fran in FtW.

Anonymous said...

Oops, I wish I could type. It's not abd, but and... I look at the last photo and I smile. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful opportunity you gave your kids, Cindy. They had the chance to give and to also challenge themselves to grow (in their music), and the chance to be lovingly accepted and appreciated for who they are! I had to chuckle over your own very honest review of their concert. I appreciate your own willingnes, also, to let them try, as you could have been unwilling to risk the response of those lovely, loving ladies. What a blessing for you all that you chose and trusted the ladies to totally support your kids.

Your kids look gogeous and handsome in their Christmas reds, jewelry, ties, and shining curls and smiles.

Nancy in the Midwest