Friday, December 14, 2007

Fred the Cat with another Story

Here I am, Fred the Cat, sitting here reading another of Pop's Christmas stories with you.

Before we get into Pop's story let me tell you my experience this week. Pop bought two Cosmic Catnip fuzzy mice toys. She only gave me one. I had it exactly one and a half days before I flipped it right into the pool. The silly thing could float, but it couldn’t swim. Now I have the other one, at this rate I’m gonna need more before Santa comes.

Okay, on with the story.

The Christmas Rhythm Band Minus Me

I told you once that 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 Distributorcap said...

Fred and Mrs Cantrell --- two very special souls.....

happy holidays to both and to all

December 14, 2007 3:57 AM  
Blogger fallenmonk said...

Fred, Thanks for telling us the puppy story again. Always a nice treat for Christmas.

December 14, 2007 5:50 AM  
Blogger niCk (Mem Beth) said...

Fred, I think I'm allergic to this Christmas story.

Like last year, when you tell that story, my eyes start watering, my nose starts running and I get this pain in my throat.

What a wonderful story.

December 14, 2007 6:04 AM  
Blogger nolocontendere said...

Somebody needs a stocking full of mouse toys.

December 14, 2007 6:06 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

What a truly groovy story. Makes me almost think there might be hope for humanity yet.

December 14, 2007 6:28 AM  
Blogger Sherry said...

wonderful story. i've been there as well. thank heavens for teachers like that.

i wonder if they knew what a lasting and wonderfully bright memory they were giving for christmas?

December 14, 2007 6:46 AM  
Anonymous brokenarrow said...

Okay, now that made me cry. I taught middle school for awhile, and still sub in the public school system, but only with the little peeps.

It is an honor and a gift to be able to sow those subtle seeds of love.

Coming from a family of eleven, with alcohol issues, I can fully relate to your puppy story, and understand the depth of your gratitude. We sometimes forget the powerful force of just being kind and loving.

Have a lovely time at Sanibel, and bright blessings to you and yours.

P.S. I have a fourth-grade story involving a botched icicle costume and Sister Mary Damien(she was one of the good nuns.)

December 14, 2007 7:04 AM  
Blogger Mary Ellen said...

What an amazing story. As I was reading it, I was thinking of my own granddaughter who is that age now. I could picture her sitting there watching others do their show and I could feel the heartache. I'm so happy that your teacher showed you that kindness. We need a lot more of that in this world today.

Thanks again for this story, it gives me hope that there are more Mrs. Cantrell's out there.

December 14, 2007 8:03 AM  
Blogger annie said...

what a great tale. it's things like p0p's story that remind me of the good. and we all need those reminders right now. best to you all, fred.

December 14, 2007 8:10 AM  
Blogger ZILLA said...



December 14, 2007 8:32 AM  
Blogger robin andrea said...

Another sweet tale, PoP. Thanks, Fred, for telling it to us.

December 14, 2007 8:55 AM  
Anonymous phoebes said...

Have you tried tracking down Mrs Cantrell (or her relatives, if she'd dead) and thanking her for her wonderful actions that long-ago Christmas?

December 14, 2007 9:06 AM  
Blogger TaraDharma said...

i love phoebes' gosh, that would warm Mrs. Cantrell's heart.

what a wonderfully kind, thoughtful teacher, and group of teachers. she turned what could have been an extremely negative, undermining experience into a affirming, joyful memory for life!


December 14, 2007 9:27 AM  
Blogger robin andrea said...

Hey Fred, Roger and I made a little audio track, an updated version of Simon and Garfunkel's 7 0'Clock News - Silent Night. Thought you might like to hear it:
New News Silent Night

December 14, 2007 9:52 AM  
Blogger dguzman said...

Oh Fred, your stories always make me cry. I love that Pop, and I love you Fred! And Mr. Pop!

Hope you get lots of the 'Nip for Christmas!

December 14, 2007 11:14 AM  
Blogger an average patriot said...

That was a good story, thanks Fred. There are a lot of special teachers. I had one myself that I will never forget. Nice memory! I just told someone maybe dizzy that it isn't the experience it is what your mind does with it. Good one!

December 14, 2007 4:10 PM  
Anonymous oldwhitelady said...

That was such a nice story. I'm glad you're sharing them with your readers. That one brought tears to my eyes. What a nice teacher!

December 15, 2007 4:21 AM  
Blogger Forty Paws said...

What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

I had a high school version of Mrs. Cantrell. Tracked her down about 15 years ago and sent her a letter thanking her for what she did for me, and to let her know that I didn't turn out homeless or a crack addict thanks to her.

Just can't imagine having to teach today's kids. There are so many needing that extra touch that it must be wholly overwhelming.

December 15, 2007 6:59 AM  
Blogger Candace said...

"Star quality and puppy breath"
Love that.
Thanks for the great story!
My "Mrs. Cantrell" was Miss Foster.
Thanks for the memories. :)

December 15, 2007 7:27 AM  
Blogger TomCat said...

Wonderful story, Fred. I'm so touched I can't even fault the teacher for choosing a dawg instead of a cat.

December 15, 2007 11:21 AM  
Blogger Michael Manning said...

This is the best thing I've read all day and my heart is warmed by your sweet story!

December 15, 2007 4:23 PM  
Blogger enigma4ever said...

this is the best christmas story so so sweet....I hope that Mrs Cantrell knows what a good thing she did....and that it was what was is the little things that make all of the difference at Christmas.....esp.for a child...namaste..

December 15, 2007 8:59 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Fred could you pass the box of tissues please... ;-) oh! so powerful....

Gotta love those teachers but I'm sure the little puppy had a whole lot to do with it! ;-)

"my father's drinking problem"

I would say people drink and the rest get stuck with the problem.. the father is oblivious to what's going on.....

Happy Holidays to you and your family!

December 16, 2007 2:44 AM  
Blogger G. said...

It's such a crazy time of year, it's always nice to read something like this that serves as a reminder of the important aspects of the holidays.



December 16, 2007 3:20 AM  
Blogger G. said...

It's such a crazy time of year, it's always nice to read something like this that serves as a reminder of the important aspects of the holidays.



December 16, 2007 3:20 AM  

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