Fanfare for the Common Man

I’m not the sappy type, but throw in a little piano, or a choir, or any music really and I turn into a blubbering dodo.  This girl could sniffle her way through “Mary Had a Little Lamb” if the situation was right.  I can sit dry-eyed through a funeral, but cue the organ and “Danny Boy” and I draw stares while trying to stifle my gasping, sobbing snorts.

My husband and I still laugh about our visit to the Constitution Center in Philadelphia.  They had this multimedia/live-action display in-the-round with booming narration and earnest actors – a nicely put-together brief patriotic synopsis of the US Constitution.  Though I outwardly tend toward sarcasm, I carry in my heart Pollyanna’s spirit.  So when the end of the presentation came – a climax of sorts with an orchestral version of something patriotic (if memory serves it wasn’t the national anthem) – I found my only-mildly patriotic self overcome.  Cue eye faucets.  The best part?  I married the right guy.  He got all misty too.  Aw.

This past weekend I attended my MIL’s annual church holiday concert.    It is awfully cute.  With equal parts awful and cute. There is a loud soprano (says the Alto – so typical), an out of tune cellist, an in-tune cellist, a piano player whose style is LOUD, and a small chorus of (mostly) non-singers doing their best.  I love it.  Her church is a perfect example of New England small town congregational architecture and attitude.  It is white, and plain, and old and sits on a lovely town green in a small town.  I have been in many churches just like it.  They serve punch (cranberry juice and ginger ale with sherbet, of course!) and home-baked goodies at intermission.  There is a door prize.  There are carols, and a few guest performers (who are truly amazing).  Older women chuck marshmallows at the audience as part of their act.  The whole event clocks in at under 2 hours.  It is perfect.

I make it through the first 5 songs without a tear.  My 18-month-old son is sitting calmly on his grandfather’s lap (a true Christmas miracle).  My husband and I are counting the number of songs left in the program, in preparation for an 18-month-old meltdown somewhere in the middle.  And then comes the chorus with “O Holy Night”.  I am not one of the faithful, and I’m pretty sure I don’t fit the definition of “holy” either.  This isn’t even my favorite Christmas carol.  And in this instance, it is only aptly but not excellently performed.  But I can feel the tightness in my chest as the spigot turns.  And then, tears.  Lots of them.

I am moved by my luck.  By my small-town upbringing where people are born, grow, fight, laugh, love and die.  I am moved by my dear friends and family. By finally getting around to marrying the boy I met in nursery school.   By the amazing opportunities afforded to me by my parents.  By the beautiful boy I had the privilege of growing, birthing, and now loving and raising (who is also continuing to sit quietly).  By the community around me who remains connected in the ways that matter, in a world that makes that harder and harder to do. By my warm house.  By my full belly – full of not only plenty of food, but also the wriggly little one scheduled to arrive in March.

I am moved by people’s voices, joined together in celebration, in community, in good humor, and in the spirit of effort and not perfection.

I am moved by darkening sky and the orange and pink sunset visible through the church windows. I am moved by the plain white church, on the plain strip of road with the plain uncomfortable pews, whose message seems to be, “You are enough.  This is enough. We are enough. Together.”

I am moved, and humbled and grateful for this all together extraordinary and ordinary life I get to live.

2 thoughts on “Fanfare for the Common Man

  1. I never knew, but should have, what an incredible writer you are my friend. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, it moved me. My love to you.

  2. Greetings! I’ve been reading your blog for some time now and
    finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Humble
    Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the excellent job!

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