It’s interesting how life delivers smiles to us where and when we might not even see them coming. I’ve been rather haunted by the story of the mass shooting at a shopping mall in Omaha, which claimed the lives of nine people – I think because we used to live about 45 minutes outside of Omaha and shopped any number of times at Westroads. When shootings occur in small towns we’ve never heard of, it’s still sad and disturbing – but when they occur someplace that you really know or where you have been, it hits even harder.
As so often is the case, smiles came courtesy of some darling children at Schulte Elementary School during the singalong portion of their afternoon Christmas concert. Schtule has a very impressive legacy of insisting on the highest standard in audience behavior, and yesterday the kids were conducting themselves in blue ribbon fashion – sitting so quietly, listening so appreciatively, applauding so warmly. They were great. (I couldn’t help but think back to a few years back – we were living on Carmel Ave at the time, so it had to be seven or eight years ago – when the kids got a bit rowdy during the Christmas assembly, and the principal at the time ended up lowering the boom . . . quietly but terrifyingly reading them the riot act, forcing them to sit in silence until each class was finally dismissed – and then the worst offenders had to write Kathy and me personal notes, apologizing for their behavior. We kept those cards for a long time because so many of them were pretty cute. And by the way, their behavior that day wasn’t all that bad compared to the typical elementary school. But at Schulte it was as though a full-scale riot had broken out.)
Anyway, when we got to the singalong portion of the concert and Kathy announced the titles of the three songs that everyone would be singing together – Deck the Halls, Rockin’ Aorund the Christmas Tree, and Jingle Bell Rock – the sound of delighted ooh’s and ah’s break out throughout the audience, as though Rudolph himself had just walked into the room. And they sang SO exuberantly, really raising the roof especially on the last song. By the way, it was those three particular songs because the choir kids voted those as their top three favorites. (You were maybe expecting In the Bleak Midwinter?)
Contrast all that to how the adult audience sang at the evening concert. O my gosh- they were pretty pathetic, and Kathy actually made them sing the second verse of Deck the Halls all by themselves just to rouse some of them out of their stony silence. News flash, parents/grandparents- if you like the idea of your kids singing and want them to keep it up, it would be nice if you weren’t afraid to do a little singing yourself. They’re watching you! And don’t tell me you can’t sing or your singing is ugly – there’s nothing uglier than a person stubbornly refusing to sing . . . and nothing more beautiful than a “non-singer” raising their voice without hesitation or restraint. They don’t call it Joyful Noise for nothing!