Dear Hyde Park Family,

“AHHHH-LEX-AHHHHH … STOP!”

I have discovered the joys of teaching my elderly parents how to use the Alexa app on their Amazon Echo. I purchased it for them a few weeks ago to give them a way of playing Filipino music by their favorite artists.

The lessons have gone as you might expect. It’s Alexa, not Amanda. Yes, it should understand your accent. No, you don’t have to yell. Don’t forget to start with Alexa; simply saying “Play Rey Valera” won’t do.

I will give them credit. After a few days, they figured it out. “Oh, Magrey,” my Mom told me a few days ago, “this is the best gift. We are listening to it all the time.” And then she recounts for me all the artists, all the albums, and all the songs they have listened to, most of which I’ve never heard of and can’t pronounce. My Dad, more the pragmatist, wonders how Amazon makes money allowing access to all this music. Oh, they make their money, we decided.

Then last Monday night, I had probably the best laugh I’ve had in months.

My older daughter Grace, a student at San Diego State University, reached out to let me know that apparently, my parents’ Amazon Echo had somehow logged into her Spotify music streaming service. Grace was on Spotify on her computer, and suddenly it started playing whatever my parents were listening to.

Now, you need to know that Grace is not a pretentious person by nature. But when it comes to her Spotify music, she can be fiercely protective. She has carefully curated her music selections to provide ready access to whatever playlist fits her mood and activity in the moment. She has her classical music, her Broadway showtunes, her pop hits, her select artists, albums, and genres, ready to go, literally at the push of a button. And given Spotify’s carefully crafted algorithms, she is even particular about the music that Spotify recommends for her to listen to.

This is all to say that since figuring out how to use their newly beloved Amazon Echo, my parents have been interjecting music into Grace’s Spotify account. This prompted this hilariously frantic text message from her to me last Monday:

“Okay. Yes, please fix it, because it keeps cutting out what I’m listening to, and playing songs in Tagalog, And now I’m getting recommendations for Tagalog songs, too. It is quite jarring to go from “Pictures at an Exhibition” to “Saang Linggong Pag-Ibig.”

This is easily my favorite text message of the whole year.

I called my parents, while still texting Grace, to figure out what to do. I explained to my mother that somehow, Grace was hearing whatever songs they were listening to. “Oh,” my mother said, half-concerned, “Grace would love Celine Dion.”

Uh, huh.

But here is where the story goes from merely comical, to a whole new stratosphere of hilarity. Grace discovered this problem while at work, at the tutoring center on campus where she is employed by the university. It was her night to provide background music for the center, and she had hooked up her computer to the public sound system.

So, you guessed it. All the students in the room were being treated to spontaneous musical interruptions by certain Filipino artists, along with Celine Dion, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, and Barry Manilow.

Grace was mortified.

I fell asleep laughing Monday night, and woke up Tuesday morning laughing all over again.

I don’t know what to do with this story; all I know is that writing it out and archiving it as a Midweek Message helps me preserve it for future use. Maybe someday it will become a sermon illustration. Perhaps you can resonate with the challenges of being in the middle generation, parenting your children, while also caring for your parents.

Or, maybe, you just needed a good laugh. I did, and for that reason, I’m grateful. And as one of my Facebook friends said afterwards, it is a sign of good parenthood that I can still find a way to embarrass my child 3000 miles away.

Alas, my only regret is that this was all unintentional.

Grace and Peace,

Magrey

COMMITMENT SUNDAY

There’s no suitable segue into this, but this Sunday is Commitment Sunday. Thank you for filling out your Estimate of Giving Card, which you can fill out online. Our Finance Committee plans all its funding for ministries and programs based on your giving estimates, so every card goes a long way toward making a big difference. Join us this Sunday for worship as we celebrate God’s goodness and claim the bright future God has for us. See you Sunday!

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