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Simple Gifts

On Friday, Gwen’s post brought up the subject of gifts.  I’d been contemplating a post on special gifts, and this just seemed like the perfect time for it.

My husband and I were traveling in our motorhome a few years ago, and spent a couple of days in Branson, Missouri. We wandered in and out of the various shops, just killing time and not really interested in buying anything.  And then we came to a dulcimer shop.  When I walked in, the sweet-yet-somewhat-plaintive sound of a dulcimer being played stopped me in my tracks.  The shopkeeper was playing, and I could have stayed and listened to him all afternoon.  The music spoke to me in some ethereal way.  It was the sound of my Kentucky roots and my Scots-Irish heritage.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the dulcimer, it’s an Appalachian instrument with a drone string that makes a sound reminiscent of a bagpipe. Seeing he had a fan, the shop owner broke into his salesman spiel, which resulted in my buying a dulcimer kit for my dad.  Dad likes to fiddle around (:-) with stringed instruments, and this one would make good use of his woodworking shop.

Fast forward to Christmas of that year.  My husband had retired, but I was still working.  He had created quite a nice woodworking shop of his own to piddle around in our barn.  Now, my husband is one of those amazing men who can do pretty much anything he puts his mind to, so I shouldn’t have been so shocked when he presented me with this unwrapped box.

Image My first reaction was What am I going to do with a pool cue–we don’t have a pool table?

“Why is Dad giving you a shotgun?” my daughter asked.

Then I opened the box.

ImageAnd there it was–the most beautiful instrument I’d ever seen.  Built, stained, embellished, polished, and strung by the hands of my beloved hero.  He also built the box out of a single block of walnut, cut by one of our friends.

Here’s another look:


What does one say when presented with such a gift?  Words are inadequate.

But I started teaching myself to play and taking lessons from CDs.  I’m not great, but the yearning is there.  When I retired and we wintered that year at The Great Outdoors Resort in Florida, I was amazed to find an active dulcimer group of which I’m now a proud member.

One of the first tunes every dulcimer player learns is an old Shaker tune called Simple Gifts.  My husband’s gift was in no way simple, but the message was.  It simply says “I love you” every time I pick up my treasure.

And my hearts sings out loud to that melody.


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