Simple Gifts


A chilly morning, the tip of my nose still cold as I type this.

I enter Starbucks and I am greeted by Smokey Robinson’s, “Tracks Of My Tears.” It is a happy sounding song whose upbeat tempo is in direct contrast with its lyrics. I tune into the happy tempo and ignore the sad lyrics.

My friend Tom is acting as the contractor for a window replacement at my house. He stopped by to supervise, which meant that I got to see him a few times yesterday. Bonus.

Our house was filled with the smells of baking. Julie had made some yeast rolls for the family, and my step-mother’s Winter Apple Cake for her small group at church. There is nothing like the intoxicating smell of baking on a cold fall day.

After dinner, we went to Band-A-Rama. It is a high school event where the various school bands play separately and then together. Grace is the first chair oboe in SWE (Symphonic Wind Ensemble), the top band at the high school.

Since the concert features 4 different bands it was held in the school’s fieldhouse instead of the auditorium. This meant foregoing the nice theater seats in lieu of the bleachers. Bleachers seem to negatively impact my back after about 30 minutes.

We sat down and soon Julie’s friend Glynis and her husband Tom sat next to us. Glynis is an English professor and a salt-of-the-earth kind of person. Julie and Glynis have been friends since Julie formed a mother/daughter book club around 15 years ago. After a few pleasantries, I turned to my phone to see what settings I would use to record parts of the performance.

Heavy in concentration I felt someone deliberately lean on me from the other side. It was Joe, my neighbor. He coached my kids in T-ball decades ago. We entered into conversation about our kids and the neighborhood before the music started.

The concert was long due to the fact that each band had to play a few pieces. Luckily, high school bands play pretty well and the experience was enjoyable. At one point one of Gracie’s friends came by and motioned a hello.

At the end of the concert, I ran into Jennifer and her husband. She is a Clinical Psychologist who works in my office. I nodded a greeting to her and her husband. Next to them was John and his wife Helen. John retired about 4 years ago and he was there to see his grandkids perform. He looked at me and as if he could read my mind he said, “Mike, you are going to love retirement.”

My daughter’s high school has almost 3000 students. How great it was to have so many nice people to interact with.

As SWE played Simple Gifts from Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” I thought that it was truly a day of simple gifts for me.

NNHS: “Simple Gifts”