Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Joy to the World

Fourth grade was very good to me. In fact, I think it was the best year of my life.


Old Lady Puberty had not yet arrived with her bagful of dirty tricks. My skin was still clear, my body uncomplicated. I had a growing collection of Bonne Bell Lipsmackers, a Shaun Cassidy album, and a few fourth-grade boyfriends. (Not that we ever touched or spoke or even made eye contact, but whenever I passed them notes that said, DO YOU LIKE ME?...they always checked the "yes" box.)


Life was sweet and simple. Until one December morning when it got even better...


Remember that song we all used to sing "Joy to the world, the school burned down and all the teachers died" ? Well, back in 1979, for a few lucky Salt Lake City elementary students, fantasy became reality. Sort of.


I mean, no one died. And nothing burned. But the pipes did burst and the building did flood. AND SCHOOL WAS CANCELLED FOR THE WHOLE WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS VACATION! Joy to the World!


Those of us who had been doubting the existence of Santa Claus were true believers now.


(I must confess that as I write this gleeful memory, my mother-heart now aches empathetically for the unfortunate moms of these lucky elementary students. Especially my own angel Momma. She had six kids under ten years of age, including my newborn baby brother. Only two of us were in school all day, with one half-day kindergartener. I am sure an extra school-free week was not her idea of a fun Christmas surprise.


All I can say is... Sorry Mom. I think you are a much stronger person for having endured this trial. And I just know up in heaven there is a great big Swiss chalet with your name tole-painted upon it!)


Luckily, at the time, I was a typically self-centered child and could not see anything but holly-jolly happiness in my immediate future. There were snowhills (sledding!), errands (shopping!) and Christmas goodies (eating!) as far as the eye could see.


It was a glorious Christmas miracle.


In fact, the only grey cloud in that wonderful week was missing our school choir performance on the Singing Christmas Tree at the Cottonwood Mall. As a serious musician (and shopper-in-training!), I had looked forward to this all season long. Since we were not able to practice at school, the show could not go on...


...at least that is what my parents told me. Later Mom confessed that the show HAD indeed gone on. Without me. She just had somehow not been able to drag all her half-dozen children to the crowded mall to watch me sing "Silver Bells" in two-part harmony.


I was crushed at the time. But my wise mother offered me comfort in a way that changed the course of my life forever. She let me make my own batch of chocolate chip cookies! By myself! (To this day, whenever something bad happens, I can be found drowning my sorrows in cookie dough. Thanks, Mom!)


Even with such a great disappointment to overcome, I managed to enjoy myself snowin' and blowin' up bushels of fun. Santa came on the 25th and left a pair of real wood-soled clogs, which were the height of Salt Lake fourth-grade fashion at the time, and the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.


But that week off school was the best Christmas gift a nine-year-old could hope for!

13 comments:

Stie: My Favorite Things said...

Your mother was a wise, wise woman. Can you just imagine being told that school would be closed for an extra week? Right on the cusp of having the standard two weeks off for Christmas? And I only have three children...ugh.

Oh, and the singing tree at the mall? I went there for a band concert every year. Me, and my big, nerdy tenor sax. You didn't miss much. A few old ladies with blue hair and the parents watching. No cute boys, like I imagined.

Lisa-Marie said...

Oh what a fun memory!

I think my mom must have felt the same way every time we had a snow day. On the outside she was pretending to be giddy and excited with us but on the inside....Poor mothers!

Marty said...

I don't remember this at all. (But there are whole years that have been blocked out by a kind memory.) I remember the day the bus couldn't make it up the hill, so all the kids in the neighborhood were out playing in the snow all day while the moms thought they were at school.

gab said...

Mom, I CANNOT believe you don't remember this! It was seriously my favorite Christmas ever ever ever. And we didn't even have to make up the lost week! Don't you remember? Cottonwood Heights Elem? Mrs. Booth?

Not that I blame you for repressing the whole memory...

John Holly Levi & Faith said...

I love this memory because it reminds me how much I LOVED christmas growing up. And I remember school being canceled ALL THE TIME and now it's NEVER canceled. It's so sad that way. I sang "here comes suzy snowflake" in the ogden mall (or was it in Provo. I can't remember) with a special little wand. I was BEYOND excited because I got to be the center of attention and dance in the middle of the circle. Ah, memories.
Oh, and I think it's hilarious that your mom can't remember. My mom CANNOT remember a Thing about my childhood (not that your mom is nearly as bad that way as mine, but it's still funny because I think they're repressed memories).

Dancin Queen said...

Seriously Gab, you kill me! I love it.

Glad that some flooding water and cancelled school brought some JOY TO YOUR WORLD!! =)

Rochelleht said...

Oh Gab, how fun was that!? I love that your mom totally made you stay home and told you a little white lie. That cracks me UP! I so agree. Now that I'm a mom, I understand how awful unexpected days off are.

Holly, that Suzy Snowflake song is sure a blast from the past. I haven't thought of that since 2nd grade, probably. Here comes Suzy Snowflake dressed in her snow white gown.

Paige said...

Cracking up your mom doesn't remember it! Someone should have set up a babysitting business. I confess I tell my kids stuff got "canceled" all the time, in case I don't want to take 4 kids to the roller skating rink, etc. All is fine until the "friends" ask them where they were the next day.

Celia Fae said...

The sad part is that due to our extreme blogging, we will remember every nasty little detail of the suffering that happened. I wonder which way is better?

My mom wouldn't buy me the clogs. They weren't practical. I was ripped off.

Bridget said...

That is so funny. I love reading your flashback posts. Its like a juicy mini-novel. Your mom MUST be a saint. Truly. 6 kids and an extra week of school and she didn't kill any of you??

Jessica said...

I think we need more of these memory moments from everyone. Love them.

Walker Family said...

coming from a mom in northern Illinois, where school was canceled yesterday due to an ice storm (which really wasn't all that bad in our neck of the woods), I feel for your mom and like Stie, I have only three kids! I'm sure I will repress yesterday years from now!

Anonymous said...

You honestly brought a tear here. Thanks for mentioning the Cottonwood Mall and that Singing Christmas Tree! It wasn't Christmas unless our school choirs got to sing there (and be one of the kids who got to go up in the tree to sing instead of stand at the bottom!) You reminded me somehow just how magical Christmas is when you're a kid. I really wish someone could have had the smarts to remodel the mall and add things it needed to expand it outside rather than simply tear it down. WE NEED an indoor mall with all these new Gateway/City Creek kinds of malls going up where our climate goes to such extremes every year.

Thanks again for the memory.

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