Earlier this year I called a piano tuner to ask his opinion on a used piano I was interested in. Without seeing the piano or agreeing to listen to the video I had taken playing it (somehow I thought that would be a good idea?) he asked me the question:
“Does the piano speak to you? Do feel a connection to it?”
…I thought he was totally crazy.
UNSOLICITED ADVICE: Do not waste time like I did hunting for a used piano deal. I can’t tell you how many classified ads I scoured, how many Estate Sales I chased, how many times I analyzed the cost of hiring a technician to go look at the piano on-location before I purchased. Then if their recommendation was that it was a worthy investment (which for me it never was), then I’d have to pay for it to be moved to my house (in the example above the piano happened to be on the top floor of an apartment complex, in the most unreachable cigaret smoke-filled room), then have it tuned and possibly refinished once it arrived in my home. Skip all that. Go to a good, reputable piano gallery like Brigham Larsen. Let the experts do their job. This is an instrument and asset to your home you will use for years. I was so impressed the used piano prices at Brigham Larsen, and the relief knowing you didn’t just painstakingly haul a lemon into your house!
But when I saw the ad for Brigham Larsen’s free piano giveaway, the piano spoke to me. I feel like I knew that was the one for my family. Or at least knew I would do everything I could to make it be so.
The contest was a combination of all the things I love: creativity, competition, and my children (I don’t usually use the word children to refer to my littles, but that alliteration, really).
The requirement was at least one photo and a caption. So naturally I took a billion photos, video and wrote a novel. I tried not to get my kids’ hopes up, though mine were through the roof. For the first round of of contestants they asked us to ‘bring social media attention’ to our entry. Which I brought. See first ‘c’ above. I about died when we made it to the finalists. Then we once again brought a whole lotta more social media attention to the good people at BL. At the grocery store I had someone I’d never met wish me luck on the contest. She’d ‘liked’ our entry for after our mutual friend had shared it. (Who says social media doesn’t create new bonds in the real world?)
I knew the day they’d be announcing the winner. I’d actually left my phone at home and worried it would be like a radio contest where if you don’t answer they go to the next one in line! I finally got home, checked my phone-nothing. Then checked Facebook where I saw they announced they had a video with the winners. I thought that meant that they had made a video with the winners IN it, which I was good with. Happy for whoever it was. I took my kids to see the drive-through christmas lights at the park while Luke was at school. As I was waiting in line to drive through I glanced at my phone and checked good ol FB. I had a notification that Brigham Larsen had commented on my photo. I clicked to check what they’d said and saw: “Congratulations, you won!”. What!? What!? What!? I thought I would die. That can’t be real. No way. No way a comment could hold such news. But then it was our turn in line to drive through the lighted tunnel. So I put my phone down like a responsible driver and drove through the animated animals, making note of our very favorite bear catching the salmon in his mouth.
When we got home I told the kids to run inside while I made a phone call. Checked my phone to see a bunch of notifications from friends congratulating us. Safe to freak out now. I immediately did what I always do when I have news of any sort; called my sister. Her end of the phone call went something like this: Her: “Hello!” Me: “Weeeee wwoooo (sobs) oooonnnnnnn (more sobs)!!!” “What? Who died? What’s wrong?” “Weee wwwwwoooonnneee. The piano. We did it Aubrey!” “Whaaaaaaaat!!!!???? We won!!!!” (Wakes up her sleeping children, scares her husband and their dog, and yes refers to it as ‘we’ won, because that’s the kind of sister she is).
Then I had to put on my game face because I wanted to keep it a surprise from our kids until delivery. I put the kids to bed making up some story about why I was crying (pregnant and so excited for Christmas, always good reasons). Waited until Luke got home, thought of a bunch of cool ways to unveil the news to him, then the second I heard the garage go up I ran in yelling “We won! We won! We won the major award! You thought I was crazy (and I am) but this time we did it!” Then I ushered him to our computer where I let him look at all the awesome comments on FaceBook and all the people who had helped us out and told him about the awesome group of piano teachers that had selected us as the winners.
I could barely sleep that night. Way better than Christmas Eve. I was so excited to meet the good people at Brigham Larsen. I made sure to go to their gallery the next day. I got to first meet their daughter who was working the front desk LIKE A BOSS. That 14 year old girl is going places! I LOVE family businesses. Got to meet Mama Karmel, who is amazing. Got to meet our future piano, that invoked immediate tears and connection. Got to meet Alison, one of the finalists for the giveaway whose story I just loved. She teaches piano to youth in her area.
It was interesting. The moment I learned we learned I thought of Alison. I love what she is doing. I remembered the nice keyboard I had purchased on Black Friday that our piano teacher had recommended for students starting keyboarding the next year. I had never seen it actually, Luke had hid it away in the garage as soon as it got delivered and I forgot about it. As soon as I learned we won and wouldn’t be needing it anymore I knew I would give it to Alison. I thought of how great she could transport the keyboard to wherever she would be teaching her students. It was so fun to meet her at Brigham Larsen and give her the keyboard I had wrapped up. It was so great to see how blessings roll off of each other.
We arranged the piano delivery. They were great to accomodate coming from Orem to Davis County. They deliver all over the state and probably even further. (Again, so much better than trying to arrange that all on our own!) Christmas Eve wouldn’t work, the 23rd it would be. A couple weeks of keeping the biggest secret from my kids and my parents, because I thought how fun it would be to surprise them too. (There’s got to be some advantages to them not being on FaceBook, right? And our family is addicted to the adrenaline of surprising one another.)
Then that day a HUGE snow storm hit. What the heck? I was at a prenatal appointment, waiting for an ultrasound after they couldn’t hear the baby’s heartbeat on the doppler (stressful scare that every pregnant woman hates, but all ended up being fine) when the coordinator from BL called saying she didn’t think they’d be able to deliver the piano until the next week due to the snow and how late all the deliveries were going to be. Sad!! I had a reveal party all ready, had imagined every moment of the ‘major award’ delivery and caroling all through Christmas on our new bad boy. So I did the thing that I always do when I have stressful moments, I called Luke. Who is a problem-solver extraordinaire. Who did what he always does when he needs a partner problem-solver, he called our brother-in-law Drew. The two of them devised a plan how to trek down to Orem and bring the piano to us. This wouldn’t be the first big game Luke had to haul home.
Grandma Camp finale at “Chuck a Grandma”
The Grandma Camp finale at ‘Chuck a Grandma’ (where we swallowed our stress in scones and self serve ice cream.)
But then the snow had cleared. (I like to think the heavens had opened up too.) And BL was awesome enough to send their awesome guys on their awesome delivery truck chuck full of awesome pianos for families all around Northern Utah. So we waited. We awkwardly made up reasons for our family to come hang out and eat delicious food (that’s not really out of the ordinary actually). I refused my kids’ requests to go to bed, forcing a mandatory viewing of A Christmas Story.
Then the knock came. Faint at first. Silence fell across the house. The knock grew louder, standing out from the outside silence the tiny snowflakes falling had created. Luke was the first one to rise, the rest of us following. The hallway to the front door seemed a mile long. The littles noticed a shiny glimmer outside the window. Another knock. Now something red, a bright red bow is seen through the shutters. Suspense got to all of us. Our oldest flung open the door, unveiling for everyone the most beautiful sight. “Would you look at that!?” Luke proclaimed. And there it was, shiny and gorgeous, the perfect major award. A Hailun piano.
*The actual delivery may have gone slightly different. (Read: tired kids, suspecting grandparents, our entire staff enlisted to haul the piano up the steep, slippery driveway, me almost forgetting to put the big red bow on, me directing Aubrey to flip the iPhone around “because friends don’t let friends take vertical video”, me surprised I didn’t go into labor with all the excitement.)
But it was there. Brought in and slid perfectly into the spot so carefully outlined before. The delivery guys polishing the beauty, demonstrating how it played perfectly. Me doing what I always do to those who visit my home; offered ridiculous amounts of baked goods and treats. Thanking the delivery guys a million billion times. (They laughed “You realize we are not the ones giving you this, right?).
And then it was there. We took a few tired photos. I couldn’t believe it was real. How could this be real? Everyone cleared the room and I was left standing there staring at the dream come true on my wall. Then a knock. Here it comes. The video crew to tell me “You’ve been punked! We’re taking it back!” Hesitantly I opened the door. It was our dear delivery boy. Oh no. Actually he’d just forgotten his water bottle. The dream was real indeed!
It’s like that little boy knew all the years of practicing he has ahead of him.
Finally we went to sleep. I made a grave social media error, too tired and overwhelmed to post anything (a rarity for me, I know). I woke up to dear friends wondering about the major award and if it was real. I had to go down to the basement to see for myself. And look who I found atop, our elf Kelson had even made his home in the big red bow.
So then we shared the great news with the masses. Took pictures with my elves. Probably cried some more. I played some choppy Christmas songs from a handed-down piano book. Then we all got ready to go Christmas Eve ice skating. Only to find out that Luke had missed his box jump that morning during Crossfit, resulting in an early Christmas present of 60 stitches! Apparently the excitement and humbling of the night before had him too grounded. And because we always like to always keep things exciting!
That Christmas Eve evening we hosted another party at our home making our traditional Abliskever. My brother in law Drew came through yet again and helped me make all the food, after he built the stand for my computer arimura he’d brought his tools down to do, after he picked up Luke’s prescription and my forgotten groceries. My younger brother dropped by after one of his “Santa Gigs”, a side job that brought joy to so many children and confidence and extra cash to a guy right when he really needed it. We sang Christmas carols in our front room. Jetta and Aubrey played a duet that I’d always anticipated. My dad read the Christmas Story from the book of Luke. We ended the evening with a humble, thankful prayer and shuffled off to bed. Not focused on Santa or the presents we were anticipating in the morning. But in the spirit of Christmas and in the joy and disbelief that comes when life blesses you with what you’ve hoped for.
This year more than any other year I can say I truly believe in the spirit Santa. I believe in Christmas.