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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: It's a Mystery

© Another Day in the Country

I was listening to the kids at school practicing for their school program. “Oooh, ouch,” way too many of them were painfully off key. “What is this?” I asked one of the teachers. “It used to be that maybe there’d be one little tyke standing in the front row at the Christmas program singing completely off pitch, but this is more than one — too many!” The teacher shook her head. It was a mystery. “Do you think it’s because they are trying to sing to a music track and there is so much going on that they can’t hear the melody line?” Again the head shake.

“I think it’s because families don’t go to church,” she said, “and kids just don’t learn to sing like they used to.” Could that be it? Church does a lot of good things for people but this was the first time I’d entertained the notion that carrying a tune was one of the benefits. The more I turned the idea over in my head the more convinced I became that maybe what kids needed was to be served up, early on, with some good old hand-clapping, foot-tapping, gospel music.

While I received more than my share of church growing up, it had never occurred to me that I’d learned to carry a tune there. My family just sang a lot, although I must admit it was mostly hymns and to this day, I know all of the Christmas carols by heart and a good portion of the words to the songs in the Hymnal — at least the first and last verse. Mysterious indeed.

“Do you know,” I said to my sister, as we were driving to the gym to exercise, “I don’t think I’ve learned the words to a new song in thirty years. How about you?” She couldn’t think of any so I suggested it was about time we learn a new song. (I say “we” because it’s fun to sing harmony.)

“What kind of song?” she wanted to know, her brows hunched together at the idea. She was already entertaining the thought of “here we go again, she’s got some hare-brained idea,” and wasn’t so sure she wanted to be along for the ride. I’ve no idea what new song I’m going to learn the words to. I’m open for suggestions. It just seems to me that singing, singing on key and knowing the words is important — especially this time of year. So, there’s a new song coming on.

This is the time of year that we not only sing more often than usual, but we generally brighten things up — with lights, if nothing else. I love seeing the lights come on in my neighborhood. I think Jeannie got hers up first this year. Then Jim lit up his corner and we started on the main drag, then Art and David put up the lights on the poles downtown. There’s so much dark in December and the Christmas lights really do make such a difference. Maybe lighting up houses also lights up our hearts.

Once outside lights were hung, I started decorating inside the house. I brought all the boxes of Christmas decorations into the kitchen. Opening them was like receiving a little gift of joyous potential. “Oh, there are those packages that light up that I bought at the end-of-season sale! They’ll be cute on the front porch, this year.” Box after box of ribbons and bows and Christmas stockings, carefully preserved.

‘We’ve accumulated a lot of stockings through the years. Wonder what I could do with these?” I mused as I lifted them out and put them on the floor beside the box. “What’s that?” I spotted this little grey furry object snuggled under more ribbon. “I don’t remember buying any stuffed toy that looks like that.” And then, I saw an eye open. Even in the Christmas spirit, all full of wonderments, I was REALLY SURPRISED.

This was a plastic storage box: WITH A LID ON. And, here was a young opossum curled up all cozy under the Christmas stockings. I had to admit it was sorta cute, hunkered down in there. How it got there, inside, lid back on, and for how long, I have no idea. It’s a mystery — one of my first delightful mysteries of the season. We took the box outside (the cats and I) and they watched with curiosity as he ambled away. You never know what completely confounding things can occur on another day in the country.

Last modified Dec. 10, 2014

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