Medium Large Comic: The Medium Large Arrhythmic, Almost All-Encompassing Holiday Hymn
Every December at Vanderbilt Elementary School, the entire school (K-6th) would gather in the auditorium to sing Christmas songs and other holiday tunes (I still know “Burn Little Candles” by heart). Naturally it was a mostly overwhelming tone deaf affair, but to someone who has always loved Christmas it was one of the high points of the school year (being an almost catatonically shy kid, it was also one of my few happy school memories of public interaction).
Another plus was that we would get to keep our lyric sheets, which I would then bring home so my family could sing on Christmas Eve. We also had our own Christmas sheet music book, its pink cover with silver bells a still vivid holiday memory. And all this was accompanied by an electric organ my dad had purchased that none of us ever learned to play except for how to press the rhumba beat button, thus turning every Christmas carol into open mic night at the Buena Vista Social Club.
In addition to minimal musical abilities none of us could sing with the very notable exception of my mom, who had been classically trained and had a beautiful voice. My dad, however, had convinced himself despite all evidence and years of being greeted with pained, horrified expressions that he made Pavarotti sound like Tiny Tim. And so he would sing to the skies at a volume that caused air traffic to be redirected, reverted glass into sand and made the rest of us curl up in fetal balls in the desperate hope that attaining to a pre-birth state would somehow protect us all. Then Dad would finish singing, looking around at us squinting, gritting and writhing, and say, “I don’t get it. I have such an incredible singing voice! Plus, I can imitate anybody!” And thus we would be greeted with a Howard Cosell impression that lasted just a little longer than Howard Cosell himself.
My brother, on the other hand, knew he couldn’t sing but simply didn’t give a damn. He charged full battle into every song like he was going to slay everyone in Helm’s Deep simply by screaming “Deck the Halls.” Though one had to admire this indomitable spirit, this approach also meant one had repeatedly to endure sitting next to him on long car rides as he sang “Hotel California” in such a, uh, unique key that to this day I still think the line goes “STAAAA-AHHH-AAAAAAAB it WITH the-AIIIIR stee-LEEEEEEE KNIIIIIIIIIVES but THEY-AYYYYYYYY-AY ju-UST can’t KILL-ILL-ILLLLL the beeee–eeeeeeee—EEEEEEAAAAASSSSSTTTTTT!!!”
As for me it was one of the few times I could get out of my shell and so I was just happy to be singing with my family during my favorite holiday. And in the spirit of the holidays, my school’s sing-alongs, and my family’s (not including mom) atonal merriment, I present to you the Medium Large Arrhythmic, Almost All-Encompassing Holiday Hymn.
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