Songs We Used to Sing

When I was a kid, my Mother taught me a song  that has stood me in good stead since: “Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag (and Smile, Boys, Smile).”
 
She learned it from her Father, my Papa; we sang it a lot because it was fun. I didn’t have the language for this then, yet I have come to understand that this song helps you to shift your attention from fear or upset to humor and grace. It’s a marching song from WWI, written in 1915, that my Papa learned as a soldier. When he sang it with us, he was playing  his banjo, which made the whole experience even more compelling.
 
I have a feeling that my Mother taught us this song because she knew how powerful it was; my guess is that she sang it to herself to help her overcome the daily challenges she faced with her rapidly expanding family and her equally as rapid deteriorating health.
 
When I sing it to myself, it comes with a world of sights and sounds and feelings that make it rich and enveloping. Singing it helps me to adjust to anything difficult that crosses my path, and typically leaves me smiling with memories of the presence of my Papa, even though he died when I was four.
 
My Mother, and my Papa, gave me the gift of singing through times of trouble or stress. Although they taught me my first songs, there are several more that I’ve picked up along the way.
 
One of my favorites comes from a movie I love, that Chuck and I watch every Thanksgiving: Jody Foster’s Home for The Holidays. The song was written for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the movie Swing Time. It’s called Pick Yourself Up (Dust Yourself Off, and Start All Over Again). I always hear the Holly Hunter version from Home for the Holidays, because my voice is more like hers.
 
If you do a Google search for the lyrics, you’ll find the entire song. Here is the verse that brings me the most grace in challenging times:
 
Will you remember the famous men
Who had to fall to rise again.
So take a deep breath;
Pick yourself up;
Dust yourself off;
Start all over again
.
 
What I’m keeping close to my heart this week is that we all fall; it’s part of being human. Singing is a choice.
 
As I move through this week and handle my challenges, I will be singing.

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