Friday, October 07, 2005

Silver Bells and the Bad Sing-Along

UPDATE: I got second place in this month's B4B entry for this entry. Yay! Thank you Kira, Jennifer, and Joshilyn!! ********************** It's time for another Blogging 4 Books entry, again hosted by Joshilyn Jackson, who says, "this month's topic should be about your close personal relationship, real or imagined, with a song". Let me tell you about a little game my family used to play when I was growing up. I don't know that it had a name at the time, but looking back on it, I think of it as The Bad Sing-Along Game. Here's how you play: You choose a song. It really doesn't matter what the song is, as long as everyone playing has a vague idea of the words and the melody. Then you all sing the song, preferably with one or more person playing an instrument, although that isn't strictly necessary. But here's what makes it BAD Sing-Along: You try to hit every single note just a little bit wrong, while trying not to harmonize with anyone else around you as they also try to hit every note just a little wrong. Fun, yes? Are we a wacky family or what? I can remember doing this many times and I'm sure we sang a lot of different songs, but the one I always hear in my mind when I think about Bad Sing-Along is "Silver Bells". Yes, that's right, the Christmas song. "Silver bells, silver bells, it's Christmas time in the city. Ring-a-ling, hear them ring. Soon it will be Christmas day." I think back and I can see my mom at the piano, pounding out discordant chords, while my sister and I, and occasionally my brother, would sing along - badly. I don't remember my dad ever singing. He tended to sit nearby with a bemused look on his face, as if he was thinking "well, they're weird, but I don't think they're dangerous". There was a lot of giggling during Bad Sing-Along and sometimes even some Bad Dancing. We don't play Bad Sing-Along now. Mom's been gone 3 years, 10 months, 25 days. My sister, brother, Dad, and I stay in touch, but it's rare that we're all together in person these days, and when we are it never seems to occur to us to do that sort of thing. Mom tended to be the catalyst for that brand of uniquely off-the-wall silliness. But when the Christmas season starts - along about Halloween! - and the stores and radio stations and TV ads start playing Christmas music, all I have to do is hear the opening chords of "Silver Bells" and in my mind I'm transported back to a more innocent time; a time before any of us knew very much about grief or loss. No matter where I am or what life is like, when I hear that song I can close my eyes and for a few moments I'm home.