Last month, I described my favorite parts of fall party fun. Today’s story tells of another gathering of friends, this time away from home.
My best friend in the world is pregnant. What a surprise for her and her family, as she and her husband assumed for years that they could not have children. With her last few nauseous months, and my busy family’s schedule, I have hardly seen my friend this fall. That changes today, however, because my daughter is participating in an All-Region choir concert near my friend’s house!
I leave the house with a smile on my face, eager to enjoy the afternoon with my buddy and the evening concert. Forty-five minutes later, I pull into the Target parking lot, search briefly for my friend’s distinctive vehicle, and park near it. We often meet here as it is on the edge of town, and she frequents the Starbucks coffee shop in the store.
Searching the coffee shop area, she is no where to be found. A quick phone call later, and I meet her with a big hug in the Christmas decoration area. We shop, we chat, we share thoughtful conversation that only best friends can, and before long it’s time for the concert.
We luckily find the venue without much trouble and find a parking space near the long line of school buses. An image of my daughter’s face from this morning flashes into my mind, and I chuckle to myself. The least-favorite part of this day for my daughter was getting up at the crack of dawn to ride the very crowded bus to choir practice. Overall, the experiences of the day definitely outweigh the inconveniences to her, and she loves the trip every year. I’m proud that she is so successful each year in this chosen interest of hers (singing). I’m also thrilled that from this year forward, the public school choir class is at 8 a.m., forcing us to get an early start on our homeschooling each day without any teen fussing about needing “five more minutes” to sleep!
My focus is brought back to the present, as we get out of the vehicle and follow the crowd inside. This is the first time the All-Region concert has been held at this location, but we easily find our way around and luck into great seats on the third row. At the last minute, family and friends file in and settle beside us. I turn to check how my pregnant friend is faring, as evenings are usually her worst time of the day. Luckily, it’s a good day for her today!
The lights dim and teens begin filing onto the stage. My daughter is easy to spot in the crowd for a change, due to her burgundy and gold choir robe. The girls’ typical black dresses weren’t ready in time for today, and this is the first time in all the years of singing that I’ve seen my daughter in a choir robe. She wasn’t thrilled about it when she tried it on at home the day before, but we had some good laughs joking about how many of us could probably have climbed into the giant costume with her.
After a brief technical difficulty with the microphone (“What?” one person in the back yells, “We can’t hear you!”), the show is under way. The singing is beautiful! My daughter seems to do well on all the songs, even the new song they were required to learn earlier today in a different language. A second choir files onto the stage after my daughter is finished. One of their songs is an improvised piece, accompanied by bongos. It is interesting and lively, just like the comedic conductor. The final song of the night is a powerful spiritual that elicits booming cheers from the crowd and a couple of tears from my eyes. What a great show!
It takes a while to reconnect with my daughter and gather our friends before we decide on the spur of the moment to have a late dinner together. I’m thrilled that my pregnant friend even feels up to eating at this time of day — yay! So, off we go, trying to follow each other across the busy town in the dark to the restaurant. On the way, we get briefly separated in traffic and get a close-up view of a departing school bus swiping the side mirror off a small SUV.
Finally making it safely to the restaurant, we prepare to nosh on southern home cooking at Cracker Barrel. We have a great time asking the waitresses to snap photos of all of us in front of the large, stone fireplace while we wait for the tasty “grub.” Then we settle back in our chairs, and conversations fly back and forth across the table with lots of smiles and laughter. My daughter tells the details of her day, with only one sad bit of news to report. It’s sad to her, anyway…her teacher found it so easy to spot her students among the sea of black dresses and suits that she’s decided they will wear the giant burgundy robes again next year!
We eventually admit we all need to end the fun and head home for bed. In the restaurant gift shop, we mill around and enjoy a few more minutes together while the tabs are being paid. I notice a couple of people sneaking up to the register to purchase Christmas gifts after someone “Oooos” or “Aaaaahs” over an item in the store. A few final hugs are exchanged and another blessed day draws to an end.