It’s interesting that seniors can’t immediately remember everyone’s name or face at times, but have no problems drifting back through years of memories in detail.
I vividly remember that at age 4, my parents (probably needing a break from their parenting of 5 children) signed me up for kindergarten earlier than the final registration date they should have. I was off by 8 months (too young by public school age standards). As a result, I spent 2 years in kindergarten. This was good and bad. Bad because the kids never let me forget it up to 6th grade until we went to junior high. They said things like “You stayed back in kindergarten.” But, it was good because I had kindergarten (K) nailed down in my 2nd year and knew all the procedures and was ‘picked’ daily by Mrs. Hayes, our beloved teacher to ‘help’ her in lessons and activities. Everyone thought I was her “pet” but I just knew the program.
One of the ‘chores’ Mrs. Hayes gave to me was to sing solo – “Silent Night” at the Family Christmas Party. I didn’t know the words and my 4 years older sister spent much time teaching them to me. She did a good job and I wish she could have taught me how to carry a tune, but knowing the words were enough. My mother was especially thrilled at this and bought me a pink linen lace-trimmed dress and new patent leather shoes AND a golden heart locket (for good luck). And…my father came to the Christmas party! He was a hard-working man for his family of 7 and he rarely missed work.
I wasn’t overly nervous about doing this; my sister taught me well and I remembered we did the same program the Christmas before. Just with different kids. I remember I was a little worried because I felt a cold coming on –my annual colds were usually around Thanksgiving or Christmas complete with the runny nose, the stuffed up feeling and worst of all — The Cough.
Sure enough, I did break out in my annual cold the day before the program. I practiced singing the song in between coughs (I held my breath longer to control it). I told my sister I was afraid I would cough and she said “No, you won’t” – and I believed everything she told me — still do.
I sang the song well – took the holding breaths in between – didn’t cough once and saw my Mom & Dad clapping with smiles.
The topper of that day was that Mrs. Hayes told me the day before the program that right after I sang, the next act — the ‘K band’ — consisting of tambourines, piano and triangle played by members of the K class would play Jingle Bells – each of them would do a “solo” when pointed to. Mrs, Hayes put me right next to her piano and when she whispered the instrument I was to conduct them and wave the baton and just point to them as she whispered. One can’t lose doing this bandleader act. My mother was astounded – she hugged me afterwards and said, “I didn’t know you would lead the band!” (A puppy could learn to do this.)
When I think of this at my age now, I am so grateful that I lived at a time when a public school of all different races & religions sang Silent Night together for a Christmas play. Would that happen today before someone got offended by it? I won’t go into what the kindergarten kids are being taught today – things way before their time that are not necessary and/or should be taught by their parents.
I’m happy with my memory of that day and pray that our children and grandchildren grow up with similar memories.
Marie Coppola © December 2019