Such gifts as these
What a gift: to be able to play a musical instrument. With your hands, wrists and fingers. It doesn’t need to be plugged in. No electrical outlet required. It’s portable. You can play it for friends and family and they will enjoy it. Your parents will look at you lovingly and marvel at your accomplishment, tapping their toes along with the music that you create – from nothing but bits of wood and cane and metal and string and the occasional piece of plastic. It doesn’t need amplification. That two blades of cane stapled together with twine, two drumsticks on a hard-headed shell, making glorious noise. It’s your gift, and also one that you present to anyone who cares enough to listen.
What a gift: the camaraderie that comes with the band, the fellow soloists, the administrators, the stewards and even the judges. It can be competition, and a reward can come with winning, but the greater gift is simply performing to one’s ability, however great or humble that might be. While the hard and anxious graft of competition has its own return, it’s the making of the music that is the greater, irreplaceable gift.
What a gift: the tunes and the scores, the arrangements and the orchestrations. They’re pure ingenuity and creativity, handmade, crafted from a limited and limitless supply of notes and combinations. For a millisecond passing across the ears, registering with the sixth sense of music, and just as quickly gone, left only in memory – a musical moment in time that’s at once fleeting but has the potential to live forever. The moment can stay with you until the end, whenever that might be, priceless and irreplaceable.
What a gift: you have friends and a community and a family. Even if you find yourself alone or lonely, at home or on the road, now or in the future, you have others who you can count on. Just put a call out to pipers and drummers wherever you might be, and they will find you and you will find them. They understand and know at least a part of you. You have this in common forever.
And what a gift: to be the piper or the drummer. You are that person. You will forever be that person. No matter what else you accomplish, for many or even most, you will be the one with that truly extra-ordinary ability. It cannot be taken from you, and it will open many doors and create many opportunities, even when you don’t realize it until much later. Pipers piping. Drummers drumming. There’s a reason why these are saved for last. The best always are.
From us to you and yours, merry Christmas and happy holidays.
May you always receive and give these gifts and more.