the flute post

[think kit. day twenty-five.]

INDIANAPOLIS — In fourth grade, I started playing the flute. And I LOVED it.

This will shock zero people: I was one of those weird kids who loved to practice. Each week, we had to tally our practicing minutes and report them to the band instructor, and I wanted to be the best, so I practiced for hours.

My parents love to tell me about how they laughed at my weird habits. For example, if I got upset about something,  I would go to my room, whip the door shut and pick up the flute. Apparently, they got to a point of waiting for the sound of my instrument after they heard the door slam, proceeding to laugh when I played my first notes.

Turns out, practicing works. I decorated my flute case with neon “Scale All-Star” buttons I earned,  and I won or medaled in a few local competitions. But as I already stated (and it must be painfully clear at this point), I was  a complete dork. Between ages 10 and 13, I had endured plenty of bullying via AOL Instant Messenger, and in my small, private school, plenty of cool kids were in the band, giving me a hard time. I thought about transferring to a public junior high.

Instead, I quit music. I had worked hard to be a good flute player, but I hated getting my chair kicked throughout rehearsals and listening to kids tease me between songs. Getting band out of my life seemed like it would help, so we returned the flute I had borrowed from a family friend, and that was it. As the years passed, my grandpa, who played in a big band for a long time, never stopped asking, “Are you still playing that flute?” He was always disappointed I quit.

Fast forward 10 years: Last month, while visiting my parents for Christmas, Dad gave me a flute he got from his instrument guy. Yeah, Dad has an instrument guy. He also acquired an electric guitar, cello, violin and trombone, which no one in our family knows how to play. He’s a bit weird like that, but whatever, so am I.

Anyway, it took me a few hours, but the notes came back. Dad got his trumpet out, and he found my sister’s clarinet, which she hadn’t played for maybe 15 years. Dad, former horn player for the Dimensions of Time, his 1970s garage band, got into the groove pretty well, considering he hadn’t played in a few decades.

Imagine how glorious the music sounded. The only logical thing to do, of course, was to put on a concert for my grandpa on Christmas Eve. We practiced for the next two days and added other family “musicians” to the ensemble.

The flute and trumpet playing continued throughout the evening, providing much fun and laughter. Dad and I even accompanied the “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” to which our family sings and do-si-dos every Christmas Eve. It’s a decades-long tradition in the DiGangi family, but we had taken a few years off when Grandma’s Alzheimer’s took hold. She stopped coming to holidays a few years ago and died in September, and we’ve slowly started to bring traditions back.

So on Christmas Eve, we drank Grandma’s signature Southern Comfort punch, sang along to our Christmas favorites and danced without reservation, the way she would have. I like to think Grandpa enjoyed listening to his family of musicians, no matter how terrible we sounded.

[Think Kit Dec. 25 prompt: Share a photo from your year that highlights giving, thankfulness, traditions, or finding peace.]

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