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LARSON: Musical presence more memorable than material presents

Susan Larson

Susan Larson

"Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum, on my drum?"

The older I get, the fewer things I need and the more I enjoy intangible gifts. That includes gift certificates for restaurants, movies and massages, but most precious of all are those gifts people give of themselves with music. A gift requiring not only the time to present it, but often hours of practice and planning.

Years ago for Christmas, our friend Judy Farrington Aust, a lawyer by profession, but also a professional opera singer, presented a mini-opera performance at our church. I remember how up to the last minute before she came on stage, she prepared for the event and wore a wool scarf to keep her vocal chords warmed up so every note she sang for her friends would be perfect. And the occasion of being among family and friends who appreciated both her talent and her time made the experience even more meaningful. And to this day our kids remember their yearly exposure to "a night at the opera."

Last Christmas, my friend Bev Lum Chow presented me the gift of music on an even more personal level. She arrived at our annual open house that my husband and I host as sort of our gift to our friends with a CD player and a change of clothing in hand. She asked me where she could dance.

I was awed as she told me that since our house was on the market and this would likely be our last Christmas within these walls, she wanted to do something special to commemorate it. She chose "The Beauty of Mauna Kea" by Keola Beamer because she said, "It captures the sense of place and remembrances of a beautiful place of majesty."

She later said, "I danced this hula to honor our friendship, your family, friends gathered and especially your love and pending departure from your beautiful home that provides rich memories."

Thanks to Bev, our last Christmas in our home of 23 years is richly remembered.

I know others who give the gift of music in other ways. When David and Michelle Rhodes were growing up in Snellville, their parents Neal and Pat encouraged them to pick special songs to play on the violin for their grandfather who was in a nursing home. Every Christmas they would entertain not only their grandfather, but the other residents as well. Getting in tune at an early age with what Christmas is really all about, they continue to give in this way in adulthood.

And then there's this old cassette tape from my dad that I've had stored in a shoebox since sometime in the '70s. The sound quality isn't all that good after all these years, but it's clear enough to recognize my dad playing Christmas songs on his harmonica.

Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. Email her at susanlarson79@gmail.com.

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