The trumpet thing

Yesterday evening Joe and I were scheduled to go down to the ‘Shoe, because Christmas in Toronto (for us) wouldn’t be Christmas if we didn’t go to the Skydiggers Christmas party. Still, last night I was hard pressed to get myself out of the house. I had knitting, I was thinking I wasn’t going to finish on time, somebody has to wrap all this, maybe there be one more batch of cookies? Could I really take the time off to go to a concert? I was torn, until one thing made up my mind.

The front man for the Skydiggers happens to be our friend Andy Maize. Andy is, like all the guys in the band, consistently a fine example of humanity, but that isn’t what prompted me to go.

What it is, is that Andy plays the trumpet sometimes, and it fills me with this incredible, impossible joy that almost moves me to tears.

It isn’t that it’s so beautiful…not in the traditional way, because frankly, Andy’s trumpet playing is, well…one of the guys in the band last night called it “spontaneous”. Andy isn’t a trumpet player, he’s a guy who plays a little trumpet, the same way that I play a little piano and maybe you can play a few chords on the guitar. It is not the quality of the music he makes that moves me. Frankly, it’s that Andy isn’t that great, he knows he isn’t that great, and in the face of all of that, he gets up and plays the thing every Christmas in front of a whole bunch of people, throws his whole being into doing it and just being himself…and he does it loudly, fully…with risk and love and chances and honesty and ….and everyone loves it best.

It’s hard to figure why. I mean, this audience is looking for excellence. The Skydiggers are fine, fine, well practiced musicians. A ticket to see the Christmas Concert ain’t cheap, and not one of them would normally be content with having a member of the band play something that was anything less than perfect. They have an incredible lead guitar, a fabulous drummer, an untouchable bassist and Andy, who sings so well that other people dream of being him. Then they have the trumpet.

Last night, when they finally played “Good King Wenceslas” and Andy reached for the trumpet, I sort of wondered what I was doing. I had so much left to do. I had so much knitting to finish, there were pressures and there was things undone and here I was hanging it all out there, wasting time to hear my buddy Andy play mediocre trumpet and somehow, despite having half knit socks, a trashed house, unwrapped gifts and a million things to do, suddenly I was really, really not wishing I was anywhere else, and I figured it out.

By the way, If you want to hear a little trumpet, spread a little joy and do some good in the world all at the same time, the Good King Wenceslas song that makes my Christmas is available for download here. It only costs 50 cents Canadian, and all profits go to the world famous Hospital For Sick Children.

As the room roared around Andy and he threw his heart and soul into quite possibly one of the only three songs he knows how to play on the thing…I got it. Why I love it, why it works, why every time Andy plays the trumpet I get that tight crazy feeling in my chest that I feel whenever something is so beautiful that it fills your soul entirely.

I poke a lot of fun at deadline knitting. There’s the hotline (877-SOS-KNIT) There’s the “IT” stories I’ve written…there is, quite frankly how demented I’ve been the last few weeks as I try to show everyone I love how much I love them by wrapping them in my wool and my time, and then there is today. There’s Andy playing the trumpet, doing his best, making a joyful noise…reaching for the good in everything, even a trumpet. Today, even though I’ve been maniacal and desperate and rushing…today I’m taking a deep breath, I’m listening to Andy step up to the mike, stand in front of hundreds of people and do the best he can with his big heart…

and I’m letting go.

Now is the time. I’m knitting now for my heart and hands. I’m going to read a story to my kids. Look out the window, check the sky for stars and snow, light a candle for those you love and miss who cannot be with you now. Don’t spoil a minute of it worrying about unfinished presents, less than perfect wrapping jobs, immolated meringues and what the right greeting for this time of year is.

Take a little time, do your best and spread some joy. Reach out, love fully and completely, and take a risk. Play the trumpet as loudly as you can.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Seasons greetings and Peace from the Harlot house to yours.

123 thoughts on “The trumpet thing

  1. Stephanie, this it the time to tell you how much joy and pleasure you bring into my life! Your writing inspires and entertains me! Thank you, and a very joyous season to you and your family!

  2. Merry Christmas to you and yours, now is the time to enjoy what the holiday is all about, not stress over this and that. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I knew you were too smart not to “get it” eventually. Next year when you start to go frantic again I’ll send you the URL to your own Christmas Eve 2005 post and save you the trouble of going through it again.
    Thank you for the little space of fiber humor you send out into the world.

  4. Beautifully said. Merry Christmas to the House of Harlot from all of us here tucked in in Colorado Springs.

  5. Merry Christmas to Team Harlot. It’s 4 PM my time, and I’m gonna go spend the evening with my boyfriend and his daughters. You’re right, this is what it’s all about. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Now you’ve done it. You’ve gone and made me cry. As if Christmas isn’t sentimental enough around here. Merry Christmas, dear Steph. Thanks for the light (and the laughs) you’ve brought into my life.

  7. Well said! I love it wrapping them in my wool and my time, just perfect!
    Merry Christmas ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Merry Christmas to you and your family. Thanks for all the laughs this year from you and all the commenters – it always makes my day to drop in and visit with everyone.

  9. I am with you — no worries, lots of joy, and a candle. Merry Christmas and happy holidays.
    And thank YOU for all the laughter and all the joy and all the ways you share throwing your whole heart into what you do.
    That Laurie

  10. Merry Christmas to you, Stephanie!
    Thanks so much for the laughter and tears, for welcoming us into your living room and letting us tag along on your adventures. Thanks for being such a shining example of making your dreams come true, and thus making mine seem far more attainable.
    Keep playing your trumpet, lady. I love the sound.

  11. Wishing you as much joy and happiness for the next year that you can stand! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Merry Christmas, my friend! I feel your spirit in my tree. I know, it’s odd, but it’s there!

  12. Merry Christmas Stephanie to you and your family (both close and far away). May Joy and happiness be found in your home today and tomorrow and for the coming year.
    Thank you for getting me through dull days, and more.

  13. Merry Christmas, Steph. I’ve said it before – family and friends are what it’s all about. In the next 24 hours, I will hug and kiss over 30 people – all whom I can’t imagine not having in my life at this time of year. Most will be with me physically, some I will silently toast and hug. Most I will wrap in wool from my needles – some are getting promises of completed items. All mean everything to me.
    Steph, thanks for bringing laughter, joy and at times tears to my life this past year – it means so much to me.

  14. Merry Xmas to your house from our house . Your blogging has made me laugh, and made me cry. But above all , reminds me of what is important in life. It’s the face of a newborn, the smile of a child , the laugh of the family around the dinner table . Knit on , Love Judy

  15. I’m a new knitter…a long-time reader…..I discovered you when I bought your book when I bought my first yarn… your blog is one of the first things I look for when I come online….love Toronto…this Yankee transplanted to Texas is missing snow….happy knitting and love and peace all the year through…

  16. Merriest of Christmases, Happiest of New Years, and may you have the wonderful spirit I read of in today’s blog all year long. (Oh, yeah, and lots of good yarn, too…)

  17. Merry Christmas, Steph!
    All of my deadline-oriented thinking was put on hold last night around 1 am when DD was suddenly attacked by a nasty stomach bug. We had planned to bundle ourselves and our gifts into the car this morning and head to Maine. So much for that. We’ll be lucky to make it tomorrow. But we are very lucky to have family and friends and kids and love and enough to eat and a warm place to sleep, and isn’t that what it’s all about?
    Let’s hear it for Cate, who reminded us all of that, and for inconvenient reminders of our blessings, and for Andy’s trumpet.

  18. Peace, Joy and Love to all! Thank you Stephanie for the gift of sharing your life and humor with us all.

  19. Love ya, Stephanie.
    Trumpets, drum beats, “%@*#&!, I dropped a #$%!stitch 12 rows back” – sounds that make the world turn ’round.
    Experiencing here, for the first time, the joy in giving handknit gifts of wool, and it is so very satisfying and wonderful.
    Peace on earth, goodwill to all.

  20. Wishing you peace, joy and I hope Santa drops lots of gorgeous wool at the Harlot house this Christmas. Joyeux Noel Stephanie!

  21. Merry Christmas to you, too. And many thanks for all the times you’ve made me laugh (immolated meringues) and cry (Andy’s trumpet and some of the essays in bookbookbook2). My Christmas knitting is unfinished, my blog not even close to being current, and I’m about to start wrapping presents, with a little doctored egg nog on the side. And now, I’m finally feeling Christmas-y. Thanks for helping! Peace and happiness to you and yours.

  22. Merry Christmas and a very happy new year to you and your family. I hope that 2006 brings you continued success…I have so enjoyed reading your blog and your books.

  23. That was a beautiful story! I’ve been blogging since 2001 using LiveJournal, this year for Christmas, I am giving myself Moveable Type and my very own URL. How exciting, eh? Your online journal has been an inspiration.
    Did I also mention that after the new year I am starting a knitting group here on the Island? What is better sounding than a new year filled with the fellowship of local knitters in the community where I live? I’m also giving credit to you, for the idea. I intend to have meetings twice a month, in a very very casual and social sort atmosphere. I also hope to, at the beginning of each meeting, read one page from your first book. Sounds like a lovely time, eh?
    Thank you Stephanie for all that you are! I hope that us folks, your “fans”, provide you as much in return as what you give us from your heart. I look forward to much wooly Yarn Harlot goodness in the New Year!

  24. thanks Miss Harlot – reading your words each day is a gift to myself – and today I choked up a bit.
    Thanks for all the little lessons you send out to all of us. Merry Cmas and peace.

  25. Happy Holidays Harlot. Wishing you and your family all the best in the coming year. May your “sticks” and yarn bring you peace.

  26. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Steph. Thank you for helping all of remember what is really important.

  27. I’ve saved a fortune cookie fortune for a long time; it says “Sing badly, if you must, but sing.”

  28. Happy holidays to you, a woman that makes the rest of us, the fiber obsessed hordes, seem almost normal!
    And happy holidays to all you commenters out there, y’all can really crack me up =)

  29. I’m hoping that my family will look at my feeble attempts at knitted gifts in the same light as you’re hearing of Andy’s trumpet playing. In fact, I’m clinging to that hope! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Merry Christmas and God Bless!

  30. Have a Happy Merry! How ever you celebrate it! Many thanks for all the laughter, and the tears, that your writting has brought. We love ya!

  31. A merry and a happy!
    (A word to your Webmaster: What’s wrong with this error message?, which came up when I tried to comment on your quantum knitting thoughts on Birch)
    Comment Submission Error
    Your comment submission failed for the following reasons:
    Comments are not allowed on this entry.
    Please correct the error in the form below, then press Post to post your comment.

  32. Thank for you sharing your stories with us.
    Happy Christmas. May the coming year bring you all that you desire – and more!

  33. Merry Christmas, Stephanie! Thanks for all your wonderful writings, today and throughout the year. It really brings me joy to read your musings.
    love, Alison

  34. Perfectly said Stephanie. We all need to stop and “play our trumpet”, whatever that means to each of us. Sending peace, joy, and holidy blessings from the Knitsox home to the Harlot home. Merry Christmas.

  35. Happy Christmas… and thanks for the reminder to slow down today. I could finish before tomorrow, but I am choosing to enjoy, to love, to spread joy, peace and goodwill instead. Thanks for that today… it was what I needed. Merry Christmas from the Wesel home to the Harlot home.

  36. …and peace from the Buelsing house to yours.
    Thank you for sharing your trials and tribulations with fellow knittes, and non-knitters alike. Thank you for the smiles and knowing grins. Thank you for a wonderful 2005. looking forward to 2006!

  37. Merry Christmas, Steph. Thank you so much for the smiles and the joy that you have brought to me and so many others. God bless.

  38. Thank you, Stephanie – and a Merry Christmas from our house to yours, natch. Thank you for reminding us what it’s really all about. ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. Ah, the Skydiggers. sigh. I’ve had a crush on Pete Cash since the early 90’s. Wish I’d been there last night.
    I’ve had a wonderful afternoon and evening of carol singing, beautiful organ music, and reminders of what the season is all about and yes, there was incense, and a wonderful relaxing dinner with my family, and I’m just about to snuggle into bed next to my wee boy so I don’t miss his waking Christmas Day moments. But I wanted to stop by and wish you and your family a wonderful and happy and relaxed holiday, dearest and best of all possible Harlots. Getting to know you this year has been an immeasurable joy, and I look forward to more in the future. Merry Christmas.

  40. Merry Christmas to you & yours, too, Steph. Thank you for all the smiles you’ve given me in the last years. I’ve let go, too, of this year’s unfinished Christmas projects. I was able to complete one (of two planned) earflap hats spun of my granddog’s fluff/wool for DSIL. DD will have to wait for hers, but at least the yarn is spun. I just never quite figured out how to knit in my sleep. The season is for family time, so I’ll go back to our Munchkin game now. Enjoy!

  41. Steph, thank you. Here in Australia we are at the end of Christmas Day, and it’s been a bit of a mixed bag of emotions for me today, for various reasons. I downloaded the Skydigger’s song, and was instantly calmed. I can see how this song fills you to bursting, and it has touched me in a way that I needed to be right now. Thank you for this gift, and for your story.

  42. A Very Merry Christmas to you, Dear Harlot. And may the new year be filled with wool! Peace to all…

  43. Happy Holidays to you and your family and friends that we have come to know through your writing. Thank you for all the joy and sadness you have shared with us. You are truly a generous person.

  44. Merry Christmas, Stephanie. Thanks for all the laughs and inspiration through the year. Best wishes to the Harlot household.

  45. Happy Holidays! i have until sundown to clear the space for the menorah (Window ledge full of yarn) and come up with dessert. At least DH will accept yarn as gift and I have finished the lace scarf for DS’s girlfriend (it will be her first Hannukah). Thanks for the reminder to just enjoy the lights and my family. Health, prosperity and lots of yarn in the new year.

  46. And to you too, dear Stephanie – joy and happiness always. This has been a huge year for you, encompassing things both good and not so much. I’m glad you were able to let go and get out to do something that so fills your heart.
    Nothing beats a full heart ๐Ÿ™‚

  47. Stephanie – reading you and your travails through life are my blast of joy. You remind me why I will put up with the nonsense I put myself through in order to feed the creative need in me and also remind me why I need to keep this alive and triving as it is all to easy to get sucked into the everyday and forget why we are here – to listen to others and give love and kindness in return. I wish the Harlot homestead all the joy and love that there is in the universe. Peace and joy to all!

  48. Happy holidays to you and your loved ones, dear Stephanie. Thank you for everything: your boundless generosity, your humour, your unflinching honesty and above all, your humanity. You rock.

  49. I have finished the lace scarf for DS’s girlfriend (it will be her first Hannukah). Thanks for the reminder to just enjoy the lights and my family.

  50. Happy holidays, everyone..I just want to tell all of you who post to Stephanie’s stories how much I appreciate your wit, wisdom,insight and energy. It means a lot to me and I mightlily enjoy it.

  51. So I’m still at the knitting stage where I can only knit things that have right angles (scarves and felted bags). But every time I read your blog, I am inspired. My New Years Resolutions involve furthering a future political career (so I can’t vote yet, who cares?) and learning to knit socks. And I reeeeeally want to learn to spin and dye-everything you do comes out gorgeous!
    Anyways, take care, and have a Merry Christmas

  52. Merry Christmas Stephanie, You have a wonderful life and I’m glad you were able to let go and enjoy the holiday with your family. (Some of us let go about a week ago but better late than never, I say) Thanks for the joy you’ve brought me this year by sharing your love for knitting.

  53. You always say the best things. It’s exactly what the season should be about.
    Here’s hoping you and yours have a very happy and safe holiday.

  54. Merry Christmas to you, Stephanie, your fine family and all the Harlot fans out there! Thanks for all the laughs and reminders of what is really important. I must also thank at least 2 of your commenters that reminded me that the store has perfectly good meringues and to take the knob off the stove!
    Now then, back to my knitting…the excuse was that I left your hat until last so that you could pick your yarn and pattern…sounds good, doesn’t it?

  55. it’s about the kids. kids don’t care for fancy wrappings, or perfect cookies.
    the sheer joy on my sons’ faces as they unwrapped hoped-for and unexpected presents is worth every second.
    that is why i love christmas.
    merry christmas, stephanie, joe and et al!

  56. Hi, Steph,
    I love the Skydiggers too. Lucky you, to be seeing them live. Andy is amazing. Have a grand Christmas day. I’m going to relax with a glass of wine and start a new “Fleece Artist” project.

  57. Merry Christmas from another house that has been inspired to become one of wool. . .
    You’re right, it’s not supposed to be a holiday of perfection–the baby was born in a stable because there was no room at the perky bed and breakfast with the Martha Stewart curtains.

  58. Merry Christmas Stephanie and the rest of Team Harlot from the Theiss family in Pickerington, Ohio. Thanks so much for all you say and do. I have gotten so much from your columns. One blog leads to another and another,,,,. You inspire me so much; just wish I could knit as fast as you do.

  59. Thank you for writing, blogging and for the many gifts of laughter. You are an international treasure. All good wishes for peace and joy.

  60. Merry Christmas to you & your family, too. Thanks for sharing a little of your life with me & bringing much laughter & occassional sorrow to it.

  61. A bit late, but… Merry Christmas!
    Just found your blog a few days ago and enjoy it immensely – had to smile at this post, because I once (in my previous incarnation as a North American Person) worked as a beer slinger at the ‘Shoe. It was easily the most dysfunctional environment I’ve ever worked in (and there have been a few). I understand it’s under new management now, however – and it makes for great storytelling.

  62. Oops I stand corrected – I went and got the El Mocambo mixed up with the Horseshoe. Gah! I worked at the Elmo – my boyfriend at the ‘Shoe.
    How embarrassing.

  63. Happy Boxing Day Steph! My favourite greeting for this time of year is Jolly Holly, Merry Berry, Jolly Berry Holly Merry, hic… It works quite well in Britain anyway. Love and peace to you and yours this festive season.

  64. Steph, I got your second book from DH for Christmas. I have only read the first two sections, and as with the first, I am trying not to read it too fast, which is the biggest problem. Want to read it fast, cuz I can’t get enough of it, but I don’t want the experience to be over with! Needless to say, from your fan here in the PNW–keep up the knitting and the laughs!

  65. Beautiful story Stephanie. Yesterday I laid down my knitting (added a quick pair of mens slippers to the “nearly dones” at the last moment) and… read a novel. Maeve Binchy. It was great. Today the slippers will be felted and mailed (when dry I think, wet slippers in the mail seem just too funky even for me). They are infused with want-to-do, not have-to-do energy, and I am reminded that this is what the knitting holiday season is suppose to be about (although I often forget it).
    What a year this has been for you. I’m wishing you all the joy and none of the stress of 2005 going into 2006. I know that may be unrealistic, but hey, what are wishes for.
    Happy Knitting! xox

  66. Your heart is full of love and good wishes for all. We need more people like you in this world. Your kindness shows through and is being bounced back to you via the numerous comments herein. Together with everyone here, I wish you and your family peace, blessings, prosperity, and beautiful yarn. You seem to have boundless energy. Thank you for being you.

  67. Thank you, Steph. I needed that. I was, right now, angry with my DH for just being, generally, a messy, stinky ‘guy.’ He leaves his socks on the floor, makes a mess in the living room, and seems not to be able to put his laundry away. You helped me to remember that he always knows when to pour me a glass of wine, doesn’t complain when he’s run out of clean socks, and tells me he loves me a hundred times a day.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours, and thank you again.

  68. Lovely story–I had a good cry and a magnificent surge of the holiday spirit–Snow Greetings of sweetness and joy to you and yours.

  69. Thank you Stephanie, for putting everything in to the proper prespective. I printed your wonderful message off and put it in my “Christmas 2006” file. I will enjoy the season more if I go into it with your sentiments in mind.
    Regards from Oklahoma City

  70. No wonder you have such a following! You have expanded my world unexpectedly. I am now a yarn fan. I just started blogging. I am amazed at a new and genuine world that appears to be emerging. A connected world of new possibilities and opportunities…and especially new friends and new levels of understanding.

  71. Okay I’m a little late in catching up with reading my very favorite blogs. I have a three year old and a four month old. ‘Nuff said there.
    There are times I miss living in Ontario and after reading this entry, now is one of those times.
    I LOVE The Skydiggers and fondly remember their concerts. (Did I mention the crush I still have on Andy?) Just listening to their music takes me waaaay back to my college days. *longing sigh* Junkhouse, Crash Vegas, Blue Rodeo, Andrew Cash….them was the days. So glad I was a part of them.
    Next time you run into Andy please tell him that there’s a 35 year old wife and mother of two in Prince George, BC that still has a crush on him after 14 years. Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚
    BTW Happy New Year and thanks for sharing your knitting escapades with us.

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