This Mother’s Day, a Concert Grand Piano

Nancy M. Williams declares rather than flowers or chocolates for Mother's Day, she wants a concert grand piano, in this Sharps and Flats™ humor essay.
Photo of Steinway concert grand piano by Ma_Ti_EU, via Wikimedia Commons

For Mother’s Day this year, don’t bother presenting Mom with a bouquet of plump peonies, gangly irises, and svelte tulips. Hold off on the box of dark chocolate truffles. Don’t even think about the simple gold necklace dangling with a charm.

This year, after logging in hours practicing the piano, shuttling to the university for her weekly piano lesson, and enduring recitals as an adult, Mom would like to celebrate. For Mother’s Day, she wants a nine-foot concert grand piano.

Before you register surprise at this request, oh teenaged son, please remember how Mom frequently cleans up the two years’ worth of Popular Science issues strewn around your room. As for you, oh tween daughter, recall that although Mom is allergic to cats, she knows how much you love animals and so is enthusiastic when the neighbor’s cat, Buddy, stops by for a pet.

And you, dear piano-spouse, Wife/Mom anticipates that the abacus of your thoughts might click through the time, money, and hassle connected to this rather unusual gift request. Consider how supportive she is of your passion for cooking. She cheerfully tolerates the 50 kinds of spices crowding the cabinet—even though a number of them seem quite similar—and she gamely washes the 13 pots, in different shapes and sizes, required to prepare Thanksgiving dinner.

Mom needs to admit that a concert grand piano presents a few complications, the most prominent being that we already have a grand piano. However, that six-foot grand piano is a much smaller size! Remember, Mom/Wife wants the ultimate, the nine-foot concert grand, the kind used by concert pianists like Simone Dinnerstein (who also happen to be a mother).

Mom also would be remiss if she did not admit that none of the small, old-fashioned rooms in our Victorian can accommodate a nine-foot concert grand piano, thus requiring—and how can Mom put this delicately?—an addition to the house. Moreover, since our town is an urban suburb, a catchy term for the reality of narrow house lots, the addition would require purchasing our neighbor’s section of land next to his driveway and cutting down the 100-foot white pine. But compared to Mom’s happiness, what is the hassle of a few title searches and the tree company’s chainsaws?

Mom has big plans, not only for the concert grand piano, but also for the house addition that will extend over land that was formerly our neighbor’s property. Mom envisages a splendid salon, a hall long enough to accommodate the piano and three or four rows of wooden chairs painted gold, with a glittering chandelier overhead. Mom wants the kind of salon that even wannabe aristocrats like Beethoven and Chopin would have found elegant!

After all, Mom recently formed a piano practice group, on the theory that performance anxiety is best kept at bay by, of all things, performing. The group would appreciate not having to crowd into Mom’s study with the potted plants. The members would be relieved not to have to sit in a chair only two feet away from the soundboard of the grand piano she already has.

Her admittedly lovely grand piano, with its resonant bass and tiny bite in the treble, that she fell in love with two years before.

Now that Mom has gotten all of this out of her system, she sees that her feverish vision, the glittering light, the painted gold, the airy room, the intoxicating stretch of the concert grand piano’s strings, already belong to her. That richness is contained within the music. In fact, Mom is very grateful for the grand piano she bought two years before, a purchase that was no small expense for the family. This Mother’s Day, Mom will be content, in fact delighted, with your thoughtful tradition, breakfast in bed.


  1. Avatar

    This is the most humorous writing, totally good. thank you. I also want to buy yet another piano.

  2. Avatar

    Nancy, I simply love your writing. You truly have a way with words.


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