When I was a little girl a big part of my life centered around music and church, the traditional kind of church with pews, Sunday School, stained glass windows, organs, and hymnals. I started taking piano lessons in kindergarten and by third grade was actually playing songs people wanted to hear. I borrowed a hymnal so I could pretend church at home with my dollies and I'd line them up in rows, sit at the piano and sing hymns. On the rare Sunday nights when we had "open hymnal" at church and you could make a request for a hymn, I would get giddy with excitement. Since sitting still wasn't (and still isn't) my strong suit, I'd throw my hand up in the air and squirm and flail it around to get the pastor to call on me. If I was lucky and got chosen, I'd always request a Christmas carol. Didn't matter if it was July, I'd pick my favorite Christmas song and ask the congregation to sing it with me. By the time I was in junior high, I was old enough to be a church pianist and the 8 a.m. service (the one only a few brave souls would attend) was my baby. I'd bang out the hymns while the congregation sang and pick my best recital songs to play for the offeratory.
I also read a lot, and many of the books I chose were set in pioneer days where music was one of the only forms of entertainment. I read about families gathered around the piano singing carols at Christmas time, stringing popcorn and drinking hot cocoa. It sounded magical to me.
When I started high school, I was introduced to sports and it became my new love. I still sang in choir, played flute in the band and kept up with piano, but my passion was athletics. The more challenging, the better. Not much has changed in twenty years. I still love how music touches my soul in a way that no other art form can. And I love how, through music, I can be transported to the very throne room of God. But most of my free time goes to running or working out at the gym and my poor piano has been out of tune, covered with dust, and serving as a photo holder for years on end.
We're hosting a house church Christmas party tonight and we kicked around the idea of singing carols. This afternoon, Alli, Paige and I dusted off the lid of the piano (which Curt had to fix to get to open), dug out the same old hymnal which I have "borrowed" long enough to have officially stolen, found the Christmas section, and started singing and playing. The F key above middle C (a note that gets played all the time) sticks. It's so out of tune that when played correctly, the notes sound wrong. The keyboard cover is broken and the spring to hold the bench lid up is sitting inside the bench with music that hasn't seen the light of day in years.
While Paige danced and twirled around the living room, Alli hovered by the piano and sang in her lopsided, out of tune, five year old voice and I hunched over the keys, eyes glued on the pages, making one mistake after the other on my creaky, beat up piano. Oh did we have fun! We sang one song after another until we'd thumbed through the entire Christmas section. Favorites we sang multiple times and I lost track of how many times we sang Silent Night. At one point, I glanced over at my daughter with her big blue eyes, one front tooth shorter than the other, singing at the top of her lungs with her movie star quality lips, and I thought I would melt with happiness. Just like the stories I read as a kid, it was magical.