Last weekend we watched the movie Groundhog Day on Netflix with our girls. I’d forgotten how much I’d loved the movie about egocentric Pittsburgh weatherman Phil Connors, who goes on location to Punxutawney, PA, for their annual Groundhog Day celebration, awaiting the dreaded forecast. It’s funny now to watch the movie, having moved from a city to a small town not unlike Punxutawney. It’s not a groundhog we celebrate but a pig—the biggest event in town is the annual pork festival, bigger than the county fair.

A couple things came to mind when we watched the movie.

1. The first time I saw Groundhog Day was with Cindy in Flagstaff. Actually, I wasn’t with her, but we were in the same theater. Our high school jazz/madrigal choir went to Flagstaff for a choir festival, and for one evening’s entertainment we picked between Groundhog Day and Aladdin. Cindy and I weren’t too fond of one another in high school, but I’ll save that for another post—one that includes another choir trip. (All this choir talk really reinforces my cool status. I know, there is nothing cooler than lead baritone.)

2. Phil Connors wonders why a different day in his life couldn’t be repeated, like the time he spent at an island resort, instead of in small-town Pennsylvania in February. I wondered what day would I like to relive again and again. The day I got married to one aforementioned Cindy. Maybe the days my children were born. How about the day we were granted custody of Gabriel? Maybe that day at the beach in San Diego with Cindy and the girls. Or at a lake in Michigan with some friends.

But then perhaps it’s not that I want to relieve any of those days. Maybe I just want my days to continue as they are. Doing things like watching a movie with the girls, cuddling, and munching popcorn. Or when I come home from work and wrestle with the boys, bench pressing them and tossing them in the air for as long as I’m able.

I do want things to change, though. I can’t wait for Micah to start talking like Gabriel. And I can’t wait for Gabriel to start playing baseball. (He will, you know, since I never did. I will live vicariously through my boys.) And the girls, someday we’ll meet for lunch, which I’ll pay for because that’s what dads do, and they can talk about their lives and the guys they’re dating, though not until they’re 30. Or maybe I’ll foot the bill for international calls when one of them (or both) serves as a missionary, and I won’t get to see them very often but will be immensely proud of them for following God’s lead, though inside there’ll be a smidgeon of pain in my heart because I can’t hold them and keep them from danger, though I always knew they were never ours to keep.

Some days life feels like Punxutawney, especially since rural Ohio looks very much the same. One day is remarkably similar to the previous. But the difference is that each day at 5:59 is a new one, and I won’t get these days back. And neither will you. What we will do with our day?

Check out this song, “Real Life,” by Lincoln Brewster, one of my new favorites. Someday I’ll sing it at church, if I can keep it together for five minutes.

6 thoughts on “Real Life in Punxutawney

  1. Great post, Matt! I hope you know that I truly enjoy reading your posts though I rarely comment.
    I also love Real Life but then again I love the entire album and have been playing it for weeks now. I know all the words to Real Life and sometimes even make it through without choking. I’m sure you know the verse that gets me every time. I think I’m a baritone also. That’s lower than an alto. Right? Or, maybe one has to have more than a 4 or 5 note range to be considered anything. And I also would like Reaching for You a step lower because I’m truly “reaching” to hit it.


    1. For me it’s the part where he says something like: “I never thought I’d have boys to raise. But I’m still figuring it out. Sometimes it feels like playing house.”


  2. Hi Matt,
    I am at the other end of the life experience and I have many wonderful memories of raising our kids. The “Real Life” song is one of my favorites.

    PS: And the solo is easy! ha, ha.


    1. Yes, it gets me every time.

      Good to hear from you. I’m trying my hand at some solos from time to time. Wanting to memorize the fret board, because I think I’m pretty good at improv otherwise. I hear stuff I want to play but just can’t play it yet.


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