Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Christmas in July

Or The Nightmare Before Christmas....

One of the most beloved Christmas songs of all time, except by me.

I can't remember if it was 4th or 5th grade, but I was selected to sing this song with three other kids at our schools Holiday Concert. We had rehearsed a few times and it sounded good, as far as I can remember. The night of the concert, in front of 300 proud parents and families, when we started singing the kid next to me, out of nowhere, sounded like Screech from 'Saved By The Bell'....

Well, guess who started laughing right in the middle of chestnuts roasting? Yep, yours truly.

I was able to reign some of it in before the end of the song, but it was too late. The music teacher, who I'd had for years and knew me well, was irate. IRATE. After the concert, back in the band room in front of the entire student body, she clenched her fists and started jumping up and down. Her face was contorted and her hair wild. She screamed at me that I had "ruined the entire concert". I tried to explain what started the fits of laughter but she wasn't amused. I didn't mean to laugh but it was one of those moments when you can't help yourself. 

This memory has stayed with me all this time and every Christmas when I hear that song the memory comes back and I beat myself up again that I ruined the concert and let all of those people down.

When we moved to our town about 8 years ago and found a church we liked I noticed this woman who looked like my old music teacher. I had totally convinced myself that it couldn't be her, not after all these years. My childhood hometown is an hour from here. I mean, what are the chances? 

Well, this is me we're talking about. The chances are pretty good.

Sure enough, this past Christmas the priest announced that 'Betty Sue' would be organizing the holiday music. When he said her name out loud and everyone turned to look at her, I knew without doubt.

She doesn't recognize me now that I'm an adult but I'm sure she would recall that eventful disaster of my youth. What she probably doesn't realize is how her adult reaction to my childish behavior has affected me all these years. I have let myself feel like a failure frequently since then. Nothing is ever good enough. My ego feeds on this memory to continue the guilt. 

The funny thing is you can't escape 'The Christmas Song'.

So I am forced to do the work since I can't escape. Let go of this memory. Forgive myself. Heal my inner child who still wants to sing along and find a way to shake hands with this woman, look her in the eye at church and say, "Peace be with you." 

And mean it.

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