I was really busy the other night and my son asked me if I would mind singing for him while he practiced his accompaniment for the school choir. Each year they hold a beautifully atmospheric concert in a little old church, it’s always packed to bursting and just the most important event of Christmas for us all. We’re not church goers but we find it grounds us, it prepares us in the correct spirit for Christmas. It’s when Christmas begins for us.
This year of course is the first that my daughter will not be there. We have attended each year since she used to sing in it and so this is our 12th year. We’re going to miss her so much that night.
I didn’t really feel like singing and I didn’t really have time. But I had a look at the list of songs and was already decided that I would do it of course, as long as we got it over with quick. For the first time in a number of years, all of the songs were traditional carols and I realised that this task was going to call for my best soprano which was rather rusty. I asked for a few minutes to exercise the vocal chords and to glug some warm honey and my son said that while I did that he would set up some recording equipment so we could send a recording to his sister. Glad he thought of that.
We started with Oh Holy Night and knowing what a perfectionist he is when it comes to these things, knowing that a bum note would cause him intense pain (I think he gets his dramatics from me sometimes) I feared I’d never achieve the power required going into the chorus and manage to hit and hold the appropriate notes. He said that he would forgive me this time. He had set up some accompaniment on his iPad and opted to accompany me using an electric guitar played through his wonderful iRig (great invention). I’m not sure what he does but it sounded amazing.
He began to play into the recorded track and I began to sing. It was going well, I was sounding good. I felt that beautiful heart swelling that you get from singing those timeless epic tunes and all of the memories associated with them come flooding in from somewhere in the recesses of your mind. For me, memories of singing with dad, memories of listening to choirs as kids, memories of family Christmas as a child, smells of Christmas, memories of my children being tiny snuggled up with mama in blankets listening to carols and hymns while having Christmas stories read to them, the wonderment of Christmas Eve, all of those wonderful carol concerts I’ve participated in and watched the kids in, all that and more.
You sing and that stuff comes thick and fast, flowing from your brain into your heart and it swells. Somehow that swelling lifts your voice, you hit and hold those notes because that full to bursting feeling in your heart takes over the control of your voice and you hear yourself singing without conscious thought to what you are doing.
At that moment I glanced across at my son, I’d been looking at the words (memory is not as sharp as it was) and I’d felt him looking at me. He was sitting relaxed on his guitar stool, the instrument looks like a natural part of him now, he wasn’t bothering with following the music, he knew it by heart already. He was looking right at me, his dimpled cheeks glowing red (he has yet to grow a whisker thank the Lord, I can’t bear that baby soft skin to disappear just yet) and he had a big smile on his face and his eyes were glistening with tears. We held one another’s gaze for the rest of the song and when we’d finished he came over to me and hugged me tight. “Mummy, you’re a beautiful singer. Well done” he let me go and I looked at him, my own eyes filled with tears now. “You’re a beautiful musician” I said and we had another hug.
We finally finished singing and recording music for my daughter at 1am. Nothing else mattered as much as those songs and making that precious memory with my son. It struck me each time I sang and that familiar heart swell came, how this very moment would forever be one of those heart swelling moments for each of us when we sang, played or heard these songs again for the rest of our lives. Something shared uniquely between us and through the recording which my daughter was delighted with, perhaps for her as well.
Sometimes we make life too complicated. Sometimes we neglect wholesome talents and skills while we’re busy chasing around other things. The simple things really are priceless.
This moment inspired my post earlier on my Music Blog too where there are three versions of Oh Holy Night to choose from, I haven’t included mine, I’m not that brave. But as I prefer male voices (I know I know so anti feminist) here is a fourth version by two of the very finest male voices.