The Third Day of Christmas

On the third day of Christmas…..

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Sweet ornaments made by my sweet friend that remind of the way the sounds of the season resonate with my soul and what a treasure friendships are.

Tonight I sat listening to the carols being played and sung by people who have come to be a part of my family.  As they sang and played the guitar and the flute and the drum box, I was, once again, moved to tears in the midst of “Silent Night.”  As I wondered why, the image of women singing this to themselves in the midst of waiting for news from the war came to my mind and heart.  I wondered what it was like for my Granny singing this back then.  Or my great-grandmother before her.

And then it hit me what a precious thing it is that they did.  They sang these same carols that I sang as a child and sang tonight.  The same ones, I’d venture a guess, that my grandchildren will sing along to one day.

Then I thought about three different Christmases and how dear they all are and how they connect me to my story–

Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future.

And for all of the new ways of doing things like tracking Santa with an app on our phones or sending Christmas cards through email or social media or going to the movies on Christmas day–all of which are wonderful in their own way–the old traditions that connect us to those who have gone before us are truly beautiful.  Decorating the Christmas tree, making homemade Christmas ornaments, baking cookies and other treats, singing Christmas carols, caroling, making time to visit with family and friends, reading the Christmas story together, sitting out milk and cookies for Santa…..

priceless.

Tonight I’m thankful for the traditions that have and will last through all three Christmases.  It is a good feeling to be a part of something that has come before and will last long after I leave this world.

Silent night, Holy Night…..

Love to all.

Delta Dawn and Earworms

Isn’t it interesting to hear songs now that you once sang out loud as a child?  Does it ever make you cringe that you sang it, not knowing what the lyrics meant?

So many songs from all those years ago I can still remember the lyrics to.  One of my favorite radio stations is the 80’s one.  (It makes Cooter crazy, which gets quite comical at times.)  When I hear one of the songs from way back when, and the lyrics all come flooding back without me even thinking, it amazes me.  And sometimes is a little embarrassing.

And then there are the times one comes along and gets stuck.  In my head.  All day long.  I think they call them earworms now, but back then, we’d just walk around complaining, “I have a song STUCK IN MY HEAD, and I can’t get it out.”

I don’t know how old I was when Daddy came up with the solution, but it seems like it’s been a part of our story for as long as I can remember.

“Sing Delta Dawn.  It will break up that song stuck in your head.”

And he was right.

Tonight I was thinking about that, and trying to remember who sang it originally.  After realizing it was not Helen Reddy, I remembered it was a very, very young Tanya Tucker.  I finally decided to look it up, and the cool thing is they both sang it.  (My memory is a little better than I thought, which is very encouraging after the week I’ve had.)  Tanya Tucker had a top ten country hit with it in 1972, and then Helen Reddy had a #1 hit with it in 1973.  And here’s what I found out that I had never known–Bette Midler also recorded it, and she planned to release it, but Helen Reddy’s version came out two days earlier.

Wow.

Bette Midler?  Delta Dawn?

Fascinating, but the truth is I couldn’t get through a whole stanza of her version.  VERY different, and just not the Delta Dawn I grew up with.

Except now I’m afraid the little bit I listened to of her version is my newest ear worm.

“Daddy, what happens if I sing ‘Delta Dawn’ and get rid of the song stuck in my head, but then Delta Dawn gets stuck in there?”

I don’t remember his exact answer, but I think it had something to do with it being a good song, so it would be okay, or it would eventually fade or something like that.

And so now, I guess I’ll do just that.  Go to sleep with a very slow version of ‘Delta Dawn’ in my head.  Unless Tanya and Helen can help me out.

What do you do to get rid of your earworms?

Tonight I’m thankful for this memory of my Daddy that made me smile.  I wonder what he’d think of Bette Midler’s version, but I’m pretty sure I already know.

May we all have a day of only the really good songs getting stuck…..

Love to all.

 

 

Click here for the link to the YouTube video of Helen Reddy’s version

Here for Tanya Tucker’s version

and finally, here for the Bette Midler one

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Going Way Back

Sometimes when I’m alone in my car, driving with the radio loud, I forget how old I am.

Depending on what song is playing,  I’m 12 and loving rainy nights, or I’m 16 and quite enthralled with Mickey–who is, by the way, fine, or I’m 19 and assuring the world it’s my prerogative, or I’m 24 and looking at the man in the mirror, asking him, I mean her, to make a change.  I’m never the age I am currently by the way.  Just not.

Today was one of those rare days where I had time in the car all by myself.  I was traveling up to see my oldest, Aub, at her college and my alma mater.  I had the opportunity to share with parents of prospective students why I loved it for me and why I love it for her.  It is home for us both.

So my heart was light as I turned the radio on, free of concerns about who might be hearing what from the backseat.  I turned it up and sang at the top of my lungs.  Now that I am a girl of a *ahem* certain age, I no longer care what folks driving next to me might think.  No worries.

It was a wonderful trip, alternating between songs from the 80’s (my high school and college years) and country music, which I have always loved.  Each song took me back to a specific point and story in my life.

By the time I got to campus, pulling in without thinking as I have done so many times over the years, I was exhausted.  Time travel will do that.  I was also a bit dazed and confused.

Because when I put the car in park, I was yanked back to the present.  I wasn’t parking on campus, coming “home” after going to the house to do laundry or eat home cooked food.  It took me a second to come back to the here and now.

How could I feel so close to who I was at nineteen when my very own nineteen year old child was sitting in MY Economics classroom telling future students what it’s like to be a Wesleyanne?

Just yesterday, I was the one sitting there.  Comfortable in my own skin, in my place at the college of my choice.  Talking with others, and planning the rest of my day out in my mind–paper to write, exam to study for, friends to meet up with for supper.  Maybe a trip to Denny’s for nachos and cheesesticks…..

In the jolt of my time machine landing, I came back to reality, where the lists in my mind included what to cook for supper, who needs what laundry done by tomorrow, and thinking about starting my Christmas list.

*sigh*

How can I be so far from nineteen and still sit with my nineteen year old self and remember and listen to her woes all over again?  Even knowing how it all eventually turns out, I want to weep with her, laugh at her jokes, and listen to every last thought she has.

This parenting thing can blow my mind at times.  That I, the nineteen year old in a way older person’s body, am a parent–what is that?

When I watched my girl speaking today, so poised and confident, growing into her own person more each day, I caught a glimpse of myself.  Of the person I was and what I thought back then.  I remembered things she knows nothing about that make us more alike than different, and I wondered–

does she ever catch a glimpse of me when she looks in the mirror?

 

Tonight I’m thankful for chances to go home again and that I feel welcomed when I’m there.  Chances to reminisce and laugh about our lives and stories from way back when are priceless.  For trees that haven’t changed and for buildings that have, I give thanks.  I am glad I had a chance to hop on that time machine and remember and dance with the girl I once was.

Turns out she’s full of life and laughter and dances way better than she ever thought she did.  Because she dances with a heart of joy and wonder, with her whole life ahead of her…..

may it be so for all of us.

Wishing you all a tune with a good beat you can dance to.  And a story that takes you back to something good, so you can dance with your heart and your feet.

 

Love to all.

 

The Sound of Music

My heart rejoices.  My girl is playing her guitar again.

After a couple of years on the oboe (and a minor fortune spent on those reeds!) and a couple of years on percussion, my oldest Aub asked for a new instrument.  She wanted to try her hand and skills on the guitar.

My girl's beautiful, treasured guitar.  Where it belongs, with her, at college, foraging a new path on the journey.

My girl’s beautiful, treasured guitar. Where it belongs, with her, at college, making a new path on the journey.

We got her a beautiful guitar and found an even more beautiful soul to teach her how to play.  I knew we’d found the right teacher when at Aub’s first lesson the teacher asked her, “Who’s your favorite artist?” and taught her to play a Taylor Swift song that very day.  The lessons continued just like that.  They eagerly shared songs they had heard with each other and they played and played and played together.  Eventually they began singing together too.

While it made her nervous for us to sit and listen, Aub would play her music in her room.  While I cooked supper in the kitchen, I could hear the tunes coming from her bedroom, and I LOVED it.  It sounded perfect to me.  It may or may not have been, but it didn’t matter.  It was beautiful, and my girl had found her instrument.  The one that touches her soul and brings her joy.

A woman who brought her nephew to swim practice last week pointed him out to me as they were all jumping in the chilly water.  “That’s him,” she said.  She told me that he’s had some hard things in his young life, but he told her, “When I swim, I’m free.”

Tears.  Yes.

And that’s how I think music makes my Aub feel.  Free.  To be happy, to be sad, to be pensive, to be angsty, strong, bluesy, joyful, silly–goodness knows there’s a song to fit any one of those emotions and more.  Free.  To feel.  To be.  Whatever.

My two favorite memories of Aub’s playing each involve my parents–the two people who loved and continue to love her so much.  In May less than a year before Mama passed, Aub had a recital with all of the students of her music teacher.  She played a beautiful song while another young woman sang.  It was amazing.  I looked over at my Mama, who was so happy to be there with her neighbor friend, and saw tears of joy in her eyes.  There wasn’t a lot that could do that since Daddy’s passing seven months prior, but her grandchildren could.  And this one, playing the guitar, an instrument Mama used to play herself–that brought her great joy.  A precious memory.

About a month or two before Daddy left this world, he was in his hospital bed in the living room, and I was sitting with him, talking and not talking.  Just being together.  Aub was in the “big room,” practicing her guitar before her lesson later that day.

Daddy cocked his head and looked at me.  “What is that?”

“The music?  That’s Aub practicing on her guitar.  Do you want me to ask her to close the door or stop for a bit?”  I wondered if the sound was keeping him from resting.

He shook his head slowly.  “No.  No, don’t make her stop.”  He paused.  “I thought it was the radio.  She’s really good.”

Y’all.  My Daddy never gave praise lightly.  If he praised you, he meant it and you had earned it, no two ways about it.

That moment right there–my Daddy made me cry.

Yessir, she is good.

For a while, the music has been quiet.  I don’t know why.  I don’t ask.  But I have missed it.

So you can imagine my joy when she said she needed her capo from home, that she was going to play at the Chapel Service on Sunday night.

We made sure she got it, that’s for sure.

When I asked her last night if she had played during the service, she said yes.  I could hear something in her voice, and while I couldn’t pinpoint it exactly, I gave thanks for it.  I was sad that I wasn’t there, but she hadn’t been sure if she would play or not, and I think she needed to do this on her own for the first time.

As I curled up to go to sleep last night, I gave thanks.  I might not have been there watching my baby take another huge step on her journey, but I know that her biggest fans were.  They were there listening with tears of joy and in amazement–thinking, “That sounds like the radio.”  I know they were there.

Tonight I’m thankful for the music in our lives and for the ones who share it with us.  I give thanks for a special music teacher who shared the joy and wonder of learning and performing music with my girl.  And I am grateful that those who are on the other side of the veil are still helping me raise this beautiful soul, with their love and encouragement that knows no boundaries.

Most of all, I’m glad that there is the sound of music in her heart again.  Music is a balm to the soul like no other, and I’m glad my girl is free again, free to feel and play and sing and to find a peace within that makes its own beautiful melody.

May you hear music in your heart today too.

Love to all.

Traveling back on a “Heart-filled Journey” with Anne and Elvis

That moment when you hear an Anne Murray song on the radio and realize you know every single word of the song?

Yeah, that happened today.

And I’m actually admitting it.  It’s okay.  Really.

Within a fourteen-minute period I went from being 22 again to ten to seventeen and back to elementary aged.

Ah, listening to the radio is an awesome time travel experience, isn’t it?

It started with Heart’s “What About Love.”  I was back sitting in an office with a co-worker whom I loved then and still do today.  We kept the radio on the local station.  Sometimes country, sometimes classic rock.  Always trying to win a contest.  And we still got the work done.  Those are some good memories.  The day she promised she would have my back on a day I needed it, it was like she was speaking a vow, because she still has it today.  When you find a friend like that, hang on tight.

Then came Miss Anne Murray.  I almost changed the station until my heart recognized the song before my head did.  I was ten again–the year it hit number one.  “You Needed Me.”  I sang along and in the rearview mirror I saw looks of disbelief from my littles.  She’s no more cool now than she was when I first fell in love with her voice and lyrics all those many years ago.  *sigh*  (And don’t you wonder what I thought I was singing about at age ten?  It’s almost as bad as all these six-year olds belting out “Let It Go.”  Seriously, what do you need to let go of, sweethearts?)

Next it was Journey’s “Open Arms.”  Ahh.  Yes.  Seventeen.  High School.  Friends with boys who could sing.  And they did.  Very well.  Memories of afternoons working on the yearbook while hanging out with friends, some of whom could play piano and were in the literary Quartet group.  Another favorite was “Sara.”  Love this song.

As we pulled into our neighborhood, Elvis Presley’s “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” began.  Y’all.  This very well could be my “Let It Go” song from when I was a child.  You know I teethed on Elvis albums, and he was IT in our house.  This song was one of those so full of feeling that I automatically belted it out every single time I heard it.  (I didn’t mean to imply that I belted it out well, just that I was loud.)  That last “Believe meeeeee…..”–I was probably every bit as passionate as the little ones who are “letting it go.”  And had about as much life experience as they do to put into the meaning.

And then we were home.  That was a good thing.  I don’t know how much more my heart could take.  It’s not easy this time travelling thing–the emotions seem every bit as strong as they once were when you take that trip back.

This afternoon today turned into one of those hard days you didn’t see coming.  One where you feel ill-equipped to handle what is coming next.

By supper I was exhausted.  And had many miles left to go.

And then this happened.

Aub, who is officially a sophomore *sigh* now, is home.  For the summer.  And she was playing some music from the internet.  And she gasped.  I looked over at her.

She smiled at me and hit play.

And one more trip back.  To 1983.  The stereo record player on the desk that Mama and Daddy had stripped and refinished out in the backyard.  Daddy learning to set the player so it would play his 45 over and over and over.  And over.  Hours after hours of that song.  (Mama used to say it was a Joyner trait to listen to the same song over and over or read the same book again and again.  Daddy really proved it back then.)

“Pancho and Lefty.”  Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.  Y’all.

Only tonight it was a cover by Dierks Bentley and Luke Bryan.  For the new Merle Haggard tribute album.

I was happy with the memories of the past.

She was happy with the version in the present.

She knew it would make me smile.  Memories of my Daddy never fail to do so.  He loved that song.  Loved the story.  Wondered why they didn’t make it into a movie.  It was always about the story with that one.  I don’t fall far from that tree.

Tonight I’m thankful for my Mama and Daddy who kept a small transistor radio (off white from age, made to look like it had stereo speakers–with wood grain-like trim) sitting on the kitchen counter and kept it playing.  Music was a huge part of our world.  When they got the record player, our horizons only broadened.  What an eclectic set of albums I’ve inherited from my Daddy.  I’m thankful for the memories tied to music that come to mind within three notes or less most times.  Most of all I give thanks for my girl knowing just what her ‘Dre needed after a hard day.

“Lefty he can sing the blues

All night long like he used to…..”

Pancho and Lefty, written by Townes Van Zandt

Love and just the right song when you need it to all.

 

Skating Parties and Time Machines

Saturday I got in a time machine and pressed the button for my elementary and junior high years.

Yep, it was my littles’ first skating party.

At the same skating rink that the popular children hung out at when I was in school.  (I was not one of them.)

I remember the first time I was invited to a birthday skating party.  I was in what is now called middle school.  It was a “scandalous” party, as both boys and girls were invited.  A first for many of us. There was much discussion that there would be something called “Couple Skate.”  I didn’t know what it was.  I just knew life would never be the same again.

The funny thing is I don’t remember the party itself–just the anticipation, buildup, excitement, and worry BEFORE the party.  I don’t even remember whose party it was.

On Saturday we arrived and the littles had their hands stamped.  Memory–check.  We walked around to the party area and met their friends.  All of them were so excited–it was downright cute.  Our Princess couldn’t wait to get some skates on her feet and try it.  The only other time she has skated has been in our driveway.  With much help.  Cooter has never had skates on his feet.  We barely had his shoes on his feet, and our Princess was heading out to the skate floor.  She and one of our neighborfriends joined hands and started off around the oval path everyone else was following.  They were so precious.  I wasn’t sure which girl was more likely to fall at that point.  But they got it together.

I figured we would have to get skates for either me or my Fella (oh please volunteer *fingers crossed*), so we could help Cooter get his legs under him.  But wonder of wonders, Mamas and Daddies were out there in their tennis shoes, etc. walking around with their beginner skaters.  They even had a special area in the middle reserved especially for them.  As I got over my worries about how to handle my new skaters, I started to look around and take it all in.

Oh.  My.  Word.

It was 1980 all over again. Seriously.

Girls were decked out like Cyndi Lauper with the tutu skirts and colorful socks and hairbands.  They flew around the skating rink like they’d been born with skates on their feet.  The smell of popcorn and sweaty feet blended together in a scent called “Reminiscent.”  And then I started listening, really listening, to the music.  Much of it was from my youth.

I seriously think somehow I did hop in a time machine.

I was standing at the side of the rink, watching my littles having a blast.  “Ghostbusters” was playing.  My little guy was out there trying to dance his little heart out (he loves him some music with a good beat).  With.  Skates.  On.

Oh my stars the cuteness.  Off the chart.

His poor Daddy.  It was like trying to wrangle an octopus.  He was trying to keep Cooter from falling over or worse, pulling him over, as the little guy’s hips were giving Elvis some serious competition and his blonde hair was flying as his head bobbed with the beat.

The song ended, and my laughter gradually subsided.  As the next song started, it only took about three seconds for me to “name that tune.”

What time was it?

Hammer time.

Again, with the skate dancing.  As I was watching Cooter and checking our Princess’ progress, I heard someone behind me doing a great job of singing the song right along with MC Hammer.  I looked back and got real tickled.  There was this older guy singing his heart out.  He knew every single part, including the fast parts.  Wow.  How funny was that?

Oh wait.

As the song came to an end, I looked at the guy again.

Oh good gracious, this man was my age.  Or maybe even <gulp> a few years younger.

So much for time travel.

I saw his teenager come up and tease him about his singing.  His pre-teen child walked by and waved.  This guy, rocking out to Hammer Time and telling all those around him, very emphatically, “Can’t touch this!”–he really was around my age.

What a wake-up call.  That brought me back to 2014 very quickly.

Y’all I have my days that I feel as old as Methuselah.  And act like it too, I’m sure.  But some days, and especially that day, it’s like I never aged out of my teens, and that young girl is aching to get out and dance her heart out like she never had the courage to do the first time around.  I was there on Saturday.  I felt young and wished, for a moment or twelve, that they had a dance floor adjacent to the skating rink.  How much fun would that be?  For just a little while I was young.  Until that old guy started singing, and I looked and saw myself.

I felt my age again really fast.

Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I like a lot about this age.  When I turned 30, I felt like the world started taking me just a little bit more seriously.  As 40 rolled around, I found I stopped taking myself quite so seriously.  How freeing was that?  Not wishing away the years, but I’m curious what 50 will bring when it gets here.  What all of this on Saturday reiterated for me was an age old truth.

Age is in our heads.  You’re only as old as you feel.  And it can change.  Some days I feel every bit of my years, and some days my heart and mind are so heavy, they age me even further.  But on some special days, when the music takes me back or the weather is as beautiful as my favorite spring day from childhood or there is the smell of fresh-cut grass in the air, I am ten again–with nearly all my life ahead of me and a heart filled with hope and a mind that couldn’t yet comprehend the wonders and heartbreaks ahead of me.

I think the mind is the ultimate time machine, isn’t it?  So thankful for my trip back on Saturday.

The littles have asked to go back again.  You know, I think we might just do it.  For the children, of course.  😉  Every single one of us.

 

In honor of my dancing boy and the song that stirred the pot this weekend, here’s a Star Wars Legos version of “Can’t Touch This.”  May it bring the child in you great delight.