Christmas Circa 1974. It was packaged in a large, round hat box topped with a giant blue bow. I saved it for last, expecting to find a coveted basketball inside, or maybe roller skates. I pulled the ribbon, threw off the lid, and found a piece of paper with fancy cursive writing (that I couldn’t decipher) instead. Turned out I had received piano lessons, gifted by my grandmother. I faked a smile, gave an exaggerated hug, and stifled the sadness in my heart. My first lesson was two Fridays later at 3:30pm. Mrs Miller arrived in a dress with a briefcase and a handful of peppermints. She sat on my right side and patiently taught me week after week after week after week…. I was not a natural. I learned the right hand notes pretty well, but I couldn’t master the left. I had to really study to play songs - I memorized them, and once I had them, I HAD them! My favorite pieces were: The Pink Panther, Mexican Hat Dance, Brian’s Song, and Fur Elise (I can still play them, kind of). Growing up, when I was at my Grandma’s house, she'd say “Margaret, why don’t you play us a little something on the piano”. Then she and my grandpa (and whoever else was near) would sit in the living room as I fumbled through some elementary piece. She’d comment, “Oh, you’re so talented, I just love to listen to you play!” She lied, and I love her for it. My Christmas gift lasted 7 years before I finally quit. I never learned to sight read, I never got the rhythm down, I never gained an understanding of music; it just never ‘spoke’ to me. My grandma died when I was in college and I took her piano. I’ve had it with me in all of my homes. Each of my kids banged on it when they were babies and played little songs and duets with me over the years. But as our schedules filled, the piano sat unplayed, out of tune, dusty, and forgotten. Once in a while I’d fumble with the keys until favorite songs came together, but those moments were few.
I gave my piano away today. First I offered it to my siblings, all of whom either already have a piano or don’t want one, so I put it on Craigslist for “FREE”. Once it was listed, I cried; I don’t know why, but I cried. Mike and I have been talking about selling it for years, and the time seemed right today. A woman called and came to look tonight - she was so happy when her fingers hit the keys, and it was easy to tell she felt the music in a way I never had. She mentioned that she did not have family, and that my piano will bring her "so much joy" this Christmas. She didn’t seem bothered that it was unkept and out of tune. I can’t help but wonder if SHE is the reason I dragged that piano to all 6 of my homes - so that finally, it could be celebrated and cherished by someone to whom it brought such joy.
Tonight I realized that I loved my piano as a ’thing’, and I was reminded that life is not about ‘things', its about celebrating and appreciating what brings us joy!