“Mom?! Where are you?”
I dry my hands on the kitchen towel and rush to the front door at the sound of our daughter’s voice. Since she lives an hour away, her unannounced visit is perplexing.
“What are you doing here?”
“I need all of your Christmas music.” Kaylynn heads to her old bedroom where I store the music I’ve accumulated from years of teaching piano lessons. Curious, I follow close behind.
“Why do you need Christmas music in September?”
“For that singing show…you know, the one where contestants sing lyrics to different songs. I emailed them that they should do a Christmas special and they want me to audition next week. So I need to practice.”
Kaylynn hands me a stack of music, grabs another pile for herself, and whisks down the hallway toward the piano.
“I need you to play from these books, and then I’ll start singing—but make sure I sing the exact words.”
Since our family regularly played “Name that Tune” when the kids were growing up, I am confident that Kaylynn won’t have any trouble singing the myriad Christmas songs I have stockpiled.
I open Christmastime I and begin playing. Kaylynn’s angelic voice fills the room.
“Angels from the realms of glory, bring your fight o’er all the earth.” I stop playing abruptly.
“Kaylynn, it’s ‘wing your flight,’ not ‘bring your fight.’”
“Oh. That does make more sense. Why would angels be bringing a fight to announce Jesus’ birth?”
After hearing just four notes of the next song, Kaylynn commences singing. “We three kings of Orient are, bearing gifts we travel so far.”
“Sweetie…it’s ‘traverse afar.’”
“’Traverse afar?’ What’s that suppose to mean?”
“It basically means ‘travel so far’…except those aren’t the words. ‘Traverse afar’ is old-school, as you’d say.”
“‘Travel so far’ sounds better. Continue please.”
I begin playing Winter Wonderland.
“…Later on, we’ll perspire. As we dream by the fire.”
I peer over my glasses at Kaylynn.
“I’m kidding, Mom. I know it’s conspire. I just wanted to see your reaction.”
Kaylynn performs the next seven songs flawlessly. Her dad silently enters the room and sits in his blue swivel rocking chair. Somehow, hearing Christmas carols makes the misery from the Indian Summer heat dissipate just a bit.
I open Christmastime II and Kaylynn switches to her best chipmunk voice.
“Christmas, Christmas time is near. Time for toys and time for cheer. We’ve been good, but we’ve been bad…”
“Whoa, slow down there, Simon…it’s not ‘we’ve been bad,’ it’s ‘we can’t wait...’”
“Really? I’ve always sung, ‘but we’ve been bad,’…you know, with Alvin and everything it just seems to fit.” Kaylynn peers at the words over my shoulder. “Guess I’d better remember that. Okay, next song.”
My confidence in Kaylynn begins to wane, but I continue playing nonetheless.
“For we need a little Christmas, right this very minute. Candies in the window, carols in the spirit…”
An exasperated sigh escapes my lips. “There aren’t candies in the window—it’s candles. And it’s ‘carols at the spinet.’ You know…like piano…spinet?”
“You don’t have to get so upset, Mom.”
“I’m sorry. I’m just frustrated that I apparently let you sing these songs wrong for all these years. Let’s finish the last one in this book.”
“Here we come a-waffling among the leaves so green.”
I gape at my daughter incredulously. “Did you just sing ‘a-waffling’?” Her dad pivots his rocker away from Kaylynn, presumably to conceal his laughter—except Kaylynn and I can see his shoulders shaking with silent snickers.
“Yes. What’s wrong with that?” Kaylynn crosses her arms and lifts her chin defiantly.
“It’s ‘a-wassssailing.’” I hold the ‘s’ sound for emphasis.
“’A-wassssssailing?’ What in the world does ‘a-wassssssailing’ mean?” Kaylynn mimics, and further exaggerates, the hissing ‘s’.
“Wassailing is an old English tradition of caroling door-to-door and bringing wassail, or warm spiked apple cider, to share.” Kaylynn’s school teacher father answers her question. “I have to know,” he continues, “what did you think ‘a-waffling’ meant? And why would you be doing it ‘among the leaves so green’?”
Kaylynn drops her challenging stance.
“I thought it was a song about sharing waffles. Some weird tradition from some old country. You know, ‘love and joy come to you, and to you your waffle too.’”
Unbridled laughter bursts from my mouth as I make an unexpected, yet necessary rush toward the bathroom. Sprinting down the hall, I hear Kaylynn calling after me, “I figured maybe the waffles went with the figgy pudding.”
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