Not another sweater…

Anyu always held close to the belief that appropriate Christmas presents for men in the family were either a sweater, an LP of music beloved by the recipient or a book of some esoteric character that was to edify the recipient.. She really looked askance when I gifted Renaissance man on his 18th Christmas with a stuffed ‘Bill the Cat’. Rumpole has long disabused me of the gifted sweater. So for these two men in my life, Christmas gifting has proved to be an adventure, of sorts.

A couple of years ago I gave Renaissance Man a fold out huge cultural history of the world. It opened up the length of his living room, and he seemed to enjoy reading esoteric bits of information from among the ages. The gift that both he and Rumpole took particular delight in was when they received guitar lessons for 4 months. This was 18 years ago, and I must say, it has been a gift that has kept giving. They joined a band, and have played together for 12 years now, and entertain us at home with musicales regularly.

This Christmas seemed particularly problematic. What does one gift a grown man who has alost everything his heart could desire? I stewed and fretted about this for months now. I want him to enjoy life, to keep learning while he can and to model that learning and enjoyment for his young daughter.

Last weekend, he and Glasgow Girl brought Mousey over for a visit. Here was the perfect occasion to put the query to him. I had cleverly and casually placed the new second-hand recorder I had bought at the thrift store, as an inducement to pique Mousey’s curiosity. True to form, as soon as she spied it, she picked it up and asked, “What is this?”

“Blow in the end,” suggested Rumpole, “It’s a recorder.”

She picked it up and tooted away with it in great delight. “Here, Mouse, ” said RM, “I’ll show you how to put your fingers.” He played the scale for her, but she couldn’t when she tried; her hands were much too small.

She marched about the kitchen and tooted away, experimenting with blowing through breaths.

“Mom, you’re such a trouble maker,” said RM. “Every time you introduce her to new things, she keeps bugging us to keep playing with them.”

Heh, heeh, that’s the plan – I thought to myself. it’s never too early.

“You know, R.M., you have a really good singing voice,” said Rumpole.

“Yeah,” I agreed, ” you have perfect pitch. Every time you sing with the band I have to pinch myself. You nail the songs so perfectly. But you lack confidence.”

“How would you like to receive singing lessons as a Christmas present, this year?” asked Rumpole.

Renaissance Man looked at each of us in turn. “You know,” he said, “it might be kind of fun. Only I don’t want to go to someone’s house for lessons.”

“Okay,” I said, ” I have the perfect place to order up lessons for you, the local music school. See if you like what they have on offer.”

So, that was that. Renaissance Man is intrigued by the possibility of voice lessons. My job was to do the research on this possibility.

So this week’s job for me was to find the singing teacher, which I did, and to order up lessons, which Rumpole and I did, this evening after having dinner with Lookingforbeauty. We drove to the music school in the dark of evening, and made arrangements with the pleasant director of the school. In January, Renaissance Man is to start his weekly lessons on Tuesday nights. I think he will be well pleased.

While at the music studio, I asked about replacement strings for my cheapo violin. They had them, and Rumpole bought a set for me. We drove home in the dark, well delighted with the possibility of making more music, en famille. I can hardly wait for Christmas – a book of songs for Renaissance Man to go with his singing lessons, and perhaps my newly strung violin along for Christmas dinner to play some reels. Of course, I shall have to practice during the coming weeks. I know for sure that Jessica, our Scottish Terrier will accompany me on the violin. She hates my music, or my singing, and joins in a chorale accompanyment appropriate to my level of playing.

It promises to be a musical New Year for us all. I can hardly wait to hear Renaissance Man let loose with his wonderful voice.

5 Responses to “Not another sweater…”

  1. The Querulous Squirrel Says:

    This is such a sweet post, dramatic suspense and all, the lovely image of a family making music together into the new year. They are all lucky to have you.

  2. Christine Says:

    That’s wonderful that father and son play in a band together. What kind of music do they like to play?

    They’re lucky to have you in their lives, because you pay attention and give gifts they probably wouldn’t give to themselves. Those are always the best kind.

    Mousey might also like an ocarina. My son has one. They are simpler to learn than recorders, and fit in the palm. You can even find them online with a leather strap to wear it around your neck, like a whistle. But RM might not like the sounds she makes….

  3. redneckarts Says:

    http://billbatten.wordpress.com/2008/12/01/maybe-more/

    you’ll never know how grateful I am to you when I read the above link…
    thankyou.

  4. suburbanlife Says:

    Thank you QS – yes, we are happily making sounds, noise and musick, or Moosik as mousey says, together. G

    Christine = their old band, Pyro Bob and the Maniacs folded in September. They are in process of reincarnation as a new band with a more R&B slant. We are having great fun coming up with possible band names, some of which are laugh out loud silly.
    Your suggestion of the ocarina is brilliant – will now search for one for Mousey. Should i care whether RM likes its sound or not? One must suffer for art, as they say. Rumpole does, bless him, so why should not RM. besides which, dullness must be avoided at all costs, i figure.
    Oowee, but we are in for some fun times. G

    Redneckarts -Bill Batten – I am thrilled with your decision to persist, on your own terms. Looking forward to your continuing journey as a painter. G

  5. diamondsandrust Says:

    Last year we voted to stop giving Chrisrmas presents.There were no small children any more and everybody seemed to have everything. This year I won’t even have a chance to send things home. But now I have the feeling that I know some people here that will be giving presents,at least for New Year so I’ll have to start rattling my brains again.

    Your musical gifts are a wonderful idea.

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