This is my favorite time of year, for so many reasons. We spend quality time with family and reconnect with friends. We bring out treasured ornaments and remember Christmases past. We think of loved ones who are with us only in spirit, though at times it seems that only minutes have passed since they were alive and vibrant, warming us with thoughtful words and kind smiles.
JoAnn Alumbaugh I wrote the following article a number of years ago, but on occasion I’ve reprinted it because it seems to hit a chord with readers. I hope it does for you, and I wish you all the best of the holiday season. It is an honor to be associated with you and I look forward to serving the pork industry in the coming year.
A Special Christmas
I was 13 years old on that cold Christmas morning in 1965. It was still dark in our big, old farmhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan, when my sister, Judy, nudged me awake.
“Come on, it’s 5:30,” she urged. “Let’s go downstairs and look under the tree.”
Quietly, so as not to wake our parents and three younger siblings, we tiptoed down the stairs with barely contained anticipation, trying to avoid the creaky spots.
I saw it as soon as we came into the living room. There, in the corner, somewhat separate from the rest of the presents, was the graceful shape of a large, stringed instrument. I knew it was a ‘cello for me.
A single red bow graced the top of the soft, brown case. Next to it was a tag that read, “To JoAnn. May this gift bring you many hours and years of pleasure. Love, Mother and Father.”
I unzipped the case and caught my breath at the unusual and beautiful “blond” finish of the wood grain. Most instruments are dark and subdued but this one radiated with vibrant warmth.
It was my mother who cultivated and nurtured my love for music. From the piano lessons in fourth grade (which I tolerated for the big bowl of chocolate ice cream at the end of each lesson), to the first scratchy notes from the rented school ‘cello, Mother was there, gently coaxing and encouraging my interest.
She prodded me to practice and hardly winced as I went through the painful process of learning to play recognizable songs. She took me to a prestigious music camp, located more than four hours away, and we nearly forgot to pack the ‘cello in our excitement.
She ushered me to every music lesson and attended every concert. From fifth grade through college, I knew Mother would be somewhere in the audience, appreciating the music and enjoying a reprieve from her own busy schedule.
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