Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday Story time With Fred the Cat

Fred the cat here. You guys should see this place. It’s all decked out for Christmas. I even have my own Christmas tree out on the patio. How cool is that? The Pops have their tree in the living room. I can lay on the patio and see both trees. Weeeee, I sure could do some damage to their tree if I could get my paws on it. Don’t think I want to go there.

Continuing with the Christmas stories, this one is for the teachers in our world, the most precious and under appreciated profession. So if you are a teacher, love a teacher, know a teacher or remember a special teacher, curl up with me and let’s read this story.

The Christmas Rhythm Band Minus Me

I grew up in a self-inflicted (by my father), financially challenged household. We never had a lot, and due to my father's drinking problem, we moved so very often, town to town, home to home, always either unpacking or packing up.

When I was in the second grade we lived in yet another rented house, and again we had little to no money. We had only been in this particular town for a short while and already the job was lost and my father had relocated to a different town. We couldn’t afford to move yet, so my mother, my sister and I were left behind for the time being.

Christmas was approaching and just like all elementary schools at that time everyone was gearing up for the big Christmas show. My teacher sent a note home to all the parents informing them that she would need about five dollars per pupil to cover the costs for the show. My class was going to be the rhythm band and we would have little outfits to wear. My mother sat me down and explained to me that there was no way that we had the money for this event. I couldn’t be in the Christmas band.

I wasn’t mortified. I was too young to feel that emotion. I was hurt. How could I not be in the Christmas band with everyone else in my class?

I had to tell my teacher that I couldn’t be in the band and I had to tell her why.

The first day of practice, all of my class was on the stage in the auditorium learning their songs as I sat out in the audience seats with my teacher. Just me. Nothing to do but watch and wish.

The next day of practice I was once again sitting there all alone except for the teachers. I just sat there. Then my teacher got up and walked over to some other teachers and they were talking. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, because I was listening to the Christmas band practicing with their shining triangles, their gorgeous big jingle bells and their pretty little wooden sticks.

My teacher came over and asked me to come with her. We went outside the auditorium and she knelt down in front of me. She told me they needed me to sing a special song for the Christmas program. She said the name of the song was “Bow Wow wants a boy for Christmas.” She wrote down the words for me and the next practice day I went up on the stage and practiced singing. To this day, I know all the words to that song.

Hey, now I was no longer sitting out there with the teachers, I felt I was the star. I had my very own song to sing. Who needs those silly triangles and bells and wooden sticks. I didn’t need any of it. I had my own special part.

Finally the night of the show arrived. I can’t remember if my Mother was there. As I sat back stage awaiting my moment in the spotlight, I felt like a million dollars. Just before it was time for me to walk through the curtains, my teacher came to me and she was carrying a little beagle puppy. She asked me if I would like to hold the little puppy while I sang my song. I mean does it get any better? Not only did I get to sing the “special” song but I would get to hold this little puppy too. Star quality and puppy breath, what a wonderful combination.

I vaguely remember singing the song and cuddling that little puppy. I vaguely remember the audience clapping. But to this day I have never forgotten that teacher and what she did for me that Christmas. Now I realize that she created that “special” song for me. She found a way to include me. She took me from loneliness to inclusion and happiness. She saw what was happening to me as I sat there watching the others participate. She probably did more for me than I have ever really realized. I don’t know what my attitude would have been had I not been given the gift of that song. Maybe it would have sowed the seeds of ill content in my little head. I don’t know. I do know that, that night I felt so very special and it was due to the thoughtfulness of my teacher. Okay, and maybe that little puppy too.

Mrs. Cantrell, if by some quirk of the internet, you should read this, please know that this adult thanks you so much for what you did for that little girl that Christmas a long time ago


Blogger Coffee Messiah said...

Nice memory.
Funny how the situations in life you remember, very rarely have to do with things or money ; )

December 08, 2006 2:04 AM  
Blogger The Future Was Yesterday said...

The richest things, are those not involving money. And they do stay with you forever, don't they?

December 08, 2006 3:11 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

I whole-heartedly agree with TUA and Coffee. What a beautiful story.

December 08, 2006 4:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Fred, Sammy here. I am out for a stroll and thought I would stop by and visit with you a bit.
meoow, mewowee, purr, meowwweeee

blogger is not being nice to my man servant, so I have to sign as anonymous, but really I over at jimmyjames blog.

have a great day ~ Sammy

December 08, 2006 4:13 AM  
Blogger bluegrrrrl said...

You always come up with the best tear-jerking stories!!! I don't know of any teacher who could have let a little girl sit all alone and watch...I'm glad Mrs. Cantrell had such a beautiful heart!

Isn't it funny how some teachers make such a mark on us? I recently ran into Miss Lindey, a 9th-grade journalism teacher whose project it was to keep a certain 14-year-old in school and out of trouble. She's close to 90 now, can't see and can barely hear. But when I told her who I was, she recounted detailed memories of what I looked like, where I sat in the classroom, and all the funny poems I used to write. Fortunately she didn't recall the bad attitude. When I told her what I do for a living now (teach), she cried. Hard to believe she remembers all that 35 years later!

December 08, 2006 5:24 AM  
Blogger fallenmonk said...

Great story PoP. Teachers can have such a positive impact on a child and many of them are not a direct result of teaching but of just setting an example or pointing some kid in a different direction with a little guidance and attention.Thanks for sharing.

December 08, 2006 5:49 AM  
Blogger mariamaria said...

Damn. This story actually made me cry and I do not cry easily.
first time tears on a blog...this is so touching...teachers, anyone really, can make the difference.

December 08, 2006 6:05 AM  
Blogger Rainbow Demon said...

Beautiful, POP.
Please give Fred a scratch behind the ears and a treat from me.

Thanks, I needed to be reminded how a little humanity could change the world.


December 08, 2006 6:32 AM  
Blogger Peacechick Mary said...

Oh, I love this story. I too am thankful for teachers and more importantly, it tells of how powerful just one little act of love can change someone's life for the better. There are people out there who need us and the acts of love that will change the world. Thanks PoP, you are a wonder.

December 08, 2006 6:34 AM  
Blogger DivaJood said...

Fred, thank you for posting this story - and I agree with what others have said: the positive acts of kindness and love will stick with us, and shape us, far more than monetary gifts or "stuff." Love and kindness are what heal people.

December 08, 2006 6:37 AM  
Blogger Gracie said...

Now that was truly a tear jerker, PoP! Thanks for sharing such a special part of your past with us.

The people like your teacher get me through those times when I feel the country is losing it completely.

December 08, 2006 6:55 AM  
Blogger robin andrea said...

Such a warm and lovely story, PoP. Acts of kindness do change the world, one person at a time.

December 08, 2006 8:28 AM  
Blogger SB Gypsy said...

*what they said, above*

Thanks for that one Fred, (and a little scritch behind the ears for you)

December 08, 2006 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Knox Rover said...

I cried when you posted that story last year, and I'm crying again this year. That is one of the most wonderful stories I've ever heard.

December 08, 2006 9:03 AM  
Blogger enigma4ever said... what a beautiful story...It too made me cry ( and I don't cry often )...that some wonderful adult, a Teacher did something so nurturing and that you could be part of Christmas and she made sure to take care of you in a way that would nurture you forever....amazing....

Mrs Cantrell whereever you are may you have many wonderful truly do practice No Child Left Behind....beautiful.

December 08, 2006 9:07 AM  
Blogger Mimus Pauly said...

So many mean things happen to us over the course of our lives, we tend to forget all but the most blatant offenses. But the acts of kindness seem to stand out, much like stars in a clear night sky.

Another great story...

December 08, 2006 9:17 AM  
Blogger MichaelBains said...


No, really.. I've just got a cold, and.. and.. and somethin' in my eye. Yeah. That's all.

Happiest of Holiday Seasons to You and Yours, M'Lady.

December 08, 2006 9:23 AM  
Blogger azgoddess said...

love your story...and your words make it even more beauteous...thanks for sharing - BIG HUGS!!!

December 08, 2006 9:27 AM  
Blogger james said...

I'm glad that you like my turtle painting. Wanna buy a print? (hint, hint) Hehe.

December 08, 2006 10:19 AM  
Blogger Pogo said...


December 08, 2006 11:30 AM  
Blogger Pursey Tuttweiler said...

I just got all choked up. What a beautiful story. Cheers to Mrs. Cantrell.

December 08, 2006 2:50 PM  
Blogger Madcap said...

That's beautiful. I wanna be Mrs. Cantrell when I grow up.

December 08, 2006 2:58 PM  
Blogger PoliShifter said...

I don't think O'Reilly would like that Christmas story all too much but I liked it..

Sounds like a good TV miniseries for the holy days ... oops Sorry O'Reilly, I mean for Christmas

December 08, 2006 3:00 PM  
Blogger niCk (Mem Beth) said...

HHMM. Cats telling tear-jerky stories with puppies in them. Fred, you are one cool dude.

December 08, 2006 6:13 PM  
Blogger DoctorBoogaloo said...

Patricia: I had something quite similar happen to me in the distant past. (I won't bother with the details, except to say that this wonderful woman was in my corner when no one -- including my family -- gave much of a damn.)

Flash forward twenty-five years or so. I see this wonderful teacher sitting alone in a mall coffee shop. I approached her and introduced myself. She looked me up and down and said: "I don't remember you. But you've gotten much taller."

True story.

December 08, 2006 6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some teachers make a HUGE impact in our lives. Touching story.

December 08, 2006 6:41 PM  
Blogger enigma4ever said...

Fred: Please be sure to tell your owner the Bloggeress of the house, POP that she has been awarded the Ralphie Award over at Watergate Summer.....this story is beautiful and needs to be shared far and wide...thanks....many hugs.

December 09, 2006 12:15 AM  
Blogger sumo said...

Wonderful to hear that there are people like that in this world. I bet the puppy part (and breath) was the best! Oh, are such the storyteller.

December 09, 2006 2:06 AM  
Blogger spadoman said...

Give my thanks to the Mrs. Contrells' of the world from me as well.

Thanks for sharing, PoP.

December 09, 2006 6:08 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

I just came across your wonderful site and I have laughed and I've cried and have been thoroughly entertained. Nice work.

December 09, 2006 10:20 AM  
Blogger Granny said...

What a beautiful story.

December 09, 2006 5:23 PM  
Blogger C-dell said...

Teachers really do contribue the most to society. Without them our society can't continue. That is a real cool story.

December 09, 2006 5:29 PM  
Anonymous pekka said...

Oh boy, do I feel different from you all! Where you see purely a story of kindness, I see also story of something gone wrong. Let me explain!

Where I come from, all education from kindergarten to university is free. So are the hot, nutritional meals and even school trips. There is no exclusive schools for rich and only the ability dictates how far you will go. The playing field is thus, from the socio-economic stand point, truly leveled. This kindness of the individual teacher could have never taken place there. You know what - I am happy that it is so.

December 09, 2006 6:59 PM  
Blogger John Good said...

Very touching, POP. Thank you for sharing this with us!

December 09, 2006 9:07 PM  
Anonymous henry said...

A nice cat

December 10, 2006 1:18 AM  
Blogger Joseph Ryan said...

What a lovely story POP :-)

December 10, 2006 3:00 AM  
Blogger Rain said...

This is a really good Christmas memory, thank you for sharing!

December 10, 2006 9:53 AM  
Blogger Karen McL said...

We all have the wish that our children (or any children) should never have to experience want or hurt or financial hardships...but sometimes it happens all the same.

How wonderful that through the kindness of a thoughtful adult, your undeserved lack of money was gifted back to you with a special moment and memory. What a clever way to offset this hardships caused by your situation...without making it seem a Handout/Charity to the only child who couldn't afford participation fees.

The true spirit of

December 10, 2006 10:25 AM  
Blogger poopie said...

Awww...that's a real heart warmer. Nothing sweeter than a beagle puppy!

December 10, 2006 11:16 AM  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

What a great story. (Wipes tear..)

Our small contributions may indeed be small, but they may be all the difference to a person who needs them.

December 10, 2006 3:29 PM  
Blogger msliberty said...


Panzon here. Man, I've missed you.

My human is only now crawling out from under the pile of papers that has engulfed her for the last two weeks.

She promises that Christmas is coming to our place, but she has to finish with the laundry and heavy cleaning before she lugs out the decorations.

Does your human let you play with the wrapping ribbon? It's cheap fun, I know, but I can entertain myself for hours with that stuff.

All the best, Panzon.

December 10, 2006 9:43 PM  
Blogger Jersey Cynic said...

Hi POP - If there is a heaven, I am sure Mrs. Cantrell will be one of those "five" you will meet...

December 11, 2006 6:17 AM  
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