(To be completely honest, this post is going to be about the 2nd best gift I’ve ever received. The truly best gift I ever received I will divulge completely in my post on the 21st entitled “What the First Christmas Means To Me.”)
But, aside from that, the story I’m about to share with you is one of my fondest Christmas memories ever.
If you didn’t already know, I am a musician by trade, songwriter by imagination, and a pianist by first love. While certain circumstances in my life have caused that love to wane (or be stressed) at times, my love for playing the piano is something that I categorize in the same place as love for my family. (I know that might seem strong…but…) Yes, sometimes we go through difficult phases with our family members. Sometimes we struggle to have the deep meaningful conversations that we might have in the past. Sometimes our family members are hurtful reminders of things we wish we could forget. And sometimes, we just need a break from them, so that after a time apart we can reunite in a love that is much stronger than before. But we never forget them, we never stop loving them, and we can always turn to them in the darkest of times.
This is my story with the piano. Right now, I’m still in that “difficult phase” of our relationship. Although it’s brought me tears and shame on more than one occasion, I know that this phase will not last forever. And this gives me hope.
(No, I haven’t forgotten the topic at hand…)
I began playing the piano when I was five, well, perhaps it was a little bit sooner than that:
But officially, my lessons began when I started kindergarten at age 5. Pictured here is me right before my first piano recital, in front of our old worn-out spinnet:
I can’t really remember when I fell in love with the piano. When I was a child all I really remember was the dreaded practice and the pit in my stomach when I went to a lesson knowing I hadn’t practiced (a feeling even worse than going to school with your homework not done). But sometime around the age of 12, things started to change. I still hated to practice my lesson work, but I loved fooling around and playing other things. I could actually begin playing hymns from the hymnal and “grownup” arrangements. My parents and teachers began to realize that God had given me a talent and that I was transforming from “a kid who takes piano lessons” to a pianist. It is at this point where I can return back to the topic at hand.
I have this horrible habit of always discovering my Christmas presents before I receive them. Either by randomly stumbling upon things around the house (such as my mother’s Christmas list for the kiddos when I was 7 which revealed the American Girl doll I was to receive) or just by this uncanny guessing ability I have (like the year I “just knew” I was getting a purple bedroom set.) But this gift was a definite exception.
It was December 16, 2000. I was almost 14. I had spent the night at a friends house and they were now at my house because their mom had brought me home. I believe we were eating lunch when the doorbell rang. My mom answered the door and then came into the kitchen with two guys and said, “Aprille, these men are here to deliver your new piano…” (those words exactly!)
I was shocked and started crying! It technically wasn’t “new” but it sure looked it! They had collaborated with my piano teacher (to whom I will be forever indebted) and picked it out for me. I had no idea. I hadn’t asked for a new piano (that I remember), but our old piano was falling apart and didn’t hold a tune well. I was amazed. I know that pianos are expensive so, to date, aside from my wedding ring and maybe a diamond necklace that my hubby gave me, this was the most costly gift I’ve ever received. At a time when they had four children in private school and at least two children (possibly three) taking private music lessons, I know this was a sacrifice for them. That fact alone meant the world to me…and always will.
Mom and Dad, I’m not sure if I could ever thank you enough for not only the piano, but all the thousands of dollars you spent in lessons and music college. But here I am trying once again. I know that my life right now might not demonstrate how much I appreciate the time and money you have invested in my musical life, but know this: if I never touch the piano again, your gift to me has already touched countless lives through my life. And I will appreciate it forever. Love, Aprille