I Wish I’d Learned to Play Guitar

Santa's GuitarI’ve always wanted one of those fantasy Christmases with real pine trees and snow outside (enough to make everyone stay put, but not enough to be dangerous) – the kind of holiday where conversations overlap and someone brings out a guitar, and maybe the power doesn’t actually go out, but no one even considers turning on a television or radio and everything is lit by candlelight.

I’ve come close to having one, once, when I was eleven, and we’d just moved to California, but I was too young, then, to really appreciate it, and I’m fairly certain that the image in my head is a memory wrapped in gauze and viewed through a soft-filter…possibly there’s even vaseline on the lens so that the details remain comfortably blurry.

The reality is that while our family Christmases are always warm and cozy, none of us actually plays the guitar, and my mother sings with great enthusiasm and a love of music, but absolutely zero sense of pitch.

I wanted to learn guitar in 2014, and ended up learning how to produce (slightly) better podcasts, instead. Well, I guess any new skill is a good thing, and you can’t learn guitar without owning a guitar.

Why am I never the person who is gifted with a guitar and lessons?

Why doesn’t anyone ever believe me when I tell them it’s what I want?

(I want a piano, too, but guitars are much less expensive…and then there’s the eternal discussion. Fuzzy wants an electronic keyboard that can interface with our computers, which is absurd because neither of us are composers. I would prefer something with real wire and real wood, and hammers that strike the strings and, and, and….)

It feels weird to not be involved in any Christmas activities at home. We skipped our annual trek across town to see Lessons and Carols because I was too ill to enjoy it. There’s another church doing their version this weekend, but we’re supposed to get massive rain on Sunday, and while I trust Fuzzy’s driving, no matter the weather, I do not trust the other people on the roads. Like Californians, Texans tend to treat every rainstorm as a surprise.

Last year, even though we didn’t go anywhere, we at least went to midnight mass. I love midnight mass. I love the candlelit church, and the scents of pine and spice. I love that we begin with at least half an hour of caroling, and I love that everyone gets to participate. Teenagers gift us with their voices and instruments lifted in song, and adults respond by singing along, and offering loving applause, and if there are bobbles or wrong notes from these very young artists, it doesn’t matter because we’re joined in community…in communion.

It’s very difficult to be a person who literally thinks in music (which I do…as much as I think in prose…music and lyrics are how my mind works) surrounded by people who aren’t musical. I wish I were a better, more versatile musician.

I wish I’d learned to play guitar.


Image Copyright: gyso4ka / 123RF Stock Photo

Holidailies 2014

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 I Wish I’d Learned to Play Guitar by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

3 thoughts on “I Wish I’d Learned to Play Guitar

  1. You still can. It’s not too late for next year if you start now. You’ll need lots and lots of practice. I mean lots. At least 15 mins every day doing the same thing.

  2. Aww. I’ve been there. It’s not too late!

    I suppose I ought to be trying to tempt you to the ukulele side, given my latest entry, but the heart wants what it wants. I hope you get a guitar!

  3. I got an electric guitar for $20 at a flea market. Might I suggest you try looking around at those? Getting a guitar for not super expensive* is totally doable, and then there’s justinguitar.com for lessons.

    * though while I paid $20 for the guitar, the supplies were not so cheap.

    I should probably go back to trying to learn again. I took some lessons IRL and found them to be super intense and kind of burned out trying to learn 4 songs in 6 weeks as a total noob….I gather web lessons are more my speed.

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