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Blue Monday

His eyes welled up with tears.

"That's one for your Blue Monday file," my father said quietly.

He'd just finished reading a particularly sweet note from one of my student's parents.

"What's a Blue Monday file?" I asked.

"You don't know what a Blue Monday file is?" He looked surprised. "Well, honey, a Blue Monday file is where you put all the things that you would want to find on a Blue Monday."

My father was a Lutheran pastor. He had baptized thousands of babies, performed countless weddings, and counseled couples and families through birth, death and marital affairs. Along the way he'd been treated like royalty, and he sometimes hadn't. He'd been thanked and he'd also been forgotten. 

"Sometimes they're gonna remember to say thank you and sometimes they aren't," he continued. "So you gotta save the really good stuff so you can find it when you're feeling down."

My current Blue Monday file.

I did as I was told and created my very own Blue Monday File. Now I have archived Blue Monday files, as well as this current one in my big filing cabinet.

I'm actually not terribly sentimental. Or at least I don't like to think I am. But I have always been grateful that I followed my dad's advice and created my own Blue Monday file.

Sometimes I read teachers posting their disappointment over not being remembered at the holidays with presents. I understand the feeling. We all want to feel special.

But I always remind myself that I'm being paid for every lesson I teach. And if a student says thank you in a particular nice or tangible way, it's just gravy. I'm grateful that I get to spend my days making music.

Here are some highlights from my current file. I share these not because I'm special, but because I think it's easy to forget the hundreds of ways people say thank you. The many times people appreciate us. 

This is from my student, Sruti, whose parents drove her 90 minutes each way to her lessons every Friday afternoon at 5 pm through the four years of high school. She now has her degree in Engineering from UC Berkeley and still takes lessons as time allows. Music is an important part of her life and always will be.

This is one from my daughter that I put in my Blue Monday file. I particularly loved the way she pronounced that I was "The Best Brother on Eath." Something I'm proud of to this day.

This is from the mother of two students I have taught for many years. I had the privilege of playing at her mother's (my student's grandmother) memorial service. Her older daughter was the inspiration for my series Attention Grabbers.

This is a whimsical homemade pop-up card my student Leo . When I first looked at it today, I saw the name "Trina" and thought "Hmm...I don't remember teaching a little girl named Trina. Am I getting forgetful?" Then I remembered that Leo had lovingly included his dog Trina in his card's wishes. I love the detail he put into the card: the beautifully rendered keys, and the music he wrote to put on the music rack.

This year's beautiful card from Iliana and Sabine.

This last card is the sweetest one of all this year. Iliana, age 10, and her sister, Sabine, have appeared in lots of my videos and blog posts. Iliana is the one I wrote about with the magnets in a little post called Trip Over It. What I didn't say was she she managed to play beautifully on the Halloween Recital even though she has had a year filled with CAT scans and MRIs, with fevers and chemotherapy. She and her sister have missed at least every fourth lesson since school started this fall. But music has been a joy and a refuge for her during her illness. And nothing has made me happier than teaching her and giving her something else to do. Some way to express herself. Her prognosis is excellent, and there are only a few more treatments left. What a relief.

I really don't care if anyone brings me a present, or gives me a Starbucks gift card - as much as I might enjoy those. Because my little Iliana and Sabine are here making music the week before Christmas. And the beautiful card they made will take its rightful place in my Blue Monday file.

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