Grinchy resolutions

By Kris Ferrazza | Jan 03, 2020

Years ago, my New Year’s resolutions were always the same: eat better, exercise more, stop chewing my fingernails and say “no” when I don’t want to do things.

Over time, I’ve gotten better at a lot of those things, especially saying “no.” It comes pretty easily to me now. In fact, it’s my go-to answer when faced with too many volunteer opportunities, social invitations and extra events at work. Life is busy, and I hate to sacrifice my already limited family time. So I just say no.

That means when the festive Secret Santa email arrived from my coworkers, I hit “delete” and went back to work. The same was true for the ugly sweater contest, the early morning breakfast and the staff song for the winter concert.

While others groused about being overwhelmed and under-prepared for the holidays, I remained silent. I was smug, knowing my shopping was done, gifts wrapped, cards mailed and tree decorated. Life was good.

Now, sure, I suspect a few people must wonder why I’m such a grinch with my time. And I do feel a bit guilty skipping out on those things. But I was redeemed bright and early the morning after the concert. I was holding the front door open for a bus load of arriving students when one turned to me and shouted, “Your singing was great last night!” I just grinned and sang out a cheery “Thank you!” After all, what they don’t know won’t hurt them. Score one for the Grinch.

To be honest, I have an even bigger reason for ducking out on the concert. Let’s just say there was an unfortunate incident. The last time I joined in, there were emails inviting everyone to rehearse after school. I scoffed at the idea.

“Seriously? Who needs to rehearse ‘Jingle Bells?’” I groused from my desk atop Mt. Crumpit. Then the Grinch packed up her bag, grabbed her dog Max, and sneaked out while the happy Whos assembled in the music room.

On the night of the big show, I have to admit I was a bit nervous. The gymnasium was packed and I’d forgotten how it felt to go onstage. Feeling like a hypocrite, I thought of all the times I’d told my students and daughter not to be anxious about singing in public.

“Nobody is ever going to notice if you make a little mistake. Just get up there and have fun!” I’d chirp. Easy for me to say.

Well, now it was my turn to get up there, and part of me just wanted to jet out the back door of the gym and head for home. But it was too late. Lots of children already had seen me, and their parents would suspect something was awry if I bolted mid-concert.

At the appointed time, I joined the staff and climbed the risers like a lamb to the slaughter. The Who Folk who had attended the rehearsals looked confident, relaxed and downright jolly. How could they smile at a time like this?

“C’mon, Kris,” I told myself, using the same pep talk I would have given to the kids. “It’s ‘Jingle Bells.’ What can go wrong?”

Apparently a lot.

The music started, and I noticed how huge the gym looked, how massive the crowd was, and just how many eyes were on us. It was a bit overwhelming. I felt my cheeks flush, and my legs were a bit wobbly. What if I fainted? What if I fell off the risers? Why were my hands so clammy?

The next thing I knew, the group had launched headlong into “Jingle Bells.” We sang with gusto and the audience was right there with us. Families young and old sang along, clapped, and rocked to the beat. Soon, I was enjoying myself. This was fun.

That’s when it happened. I noticed not many people were singing, but I plowed ahead. Then I realized I was the only person in my entire section still singing.

“C’mon, everybody” I urged. “Sing!”

“We’re supposed to rest here…” someone behind me whispered.

“Ohhhhhhh…” I thought. Maybe I should have gone to that rehearsal after all.

I flushed crimson and stopped singing, just in time for everyone else to start up again. What. The. Heck. When did “Jingle Bells” become so complicated?

Convinced I had single-handedly ruined the concert, I just swayed to the beat and smiled, afraid to utter a word. I looked out across the sea of faces, eyes unfocused, pretending to be on a beach somewhere far, far away. When the song finally ended, the crowd erupted in raucous cheers, applause and whistles. They were really into it. And it was a lot to take in, especially considering the crime I’d just committed.

We descended the risers and returned to the back of the gym, waving and high-fiving the children like we were rock stars. Once at the back, I headed to the nearest exit and went home.

The next day, students praised my singing, and the staff pretended nothing was wrong. Oh, I get it, I thought to myself. They were being nice. In the lunchroom, I could take it no longer and addressed the elephant in the room.

“Sorry for ruining the staff song,” I said, stabbing at my salad. “I’m an idiot.”

They seemed genuinely surprised, and asked what I meant, then laughed at my confession. What I had always said was true. Apparently no one had even noticed my faux pas.

So this year I know not what I will resolve to do in 2020. Maybe I’ll exercise less and eat more. Take up chewing my fingernails again. Or perhaps I’ll say “yes” to more opportunities. I’ll buy an ugly Christmas sweater, come down off Mt. Crumpit and get back in the game. Or maybe not.

And the beat goes on.

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