Friday, December 23, 2011


It's Christmas Eve Eve, friends, and time to work up some spirit. At our house the tree is all alight, having been generously decorated by son John, who is home for a couple of weeks. The two of us went out and got a skinny tree this year while Harold was at work.

I like skinny trees, although we often get fat bushy ones that take up half the living room and demand special hooks to fasten the ornaments on. Something about a slim tree reminds me of the old days in Corwin C at Douglass, and my first Christmas-tide in college. We put up a skinny tree in the dorm living room and hung our junk jewelry on it. Half of us called it a Hanukkah bush. We sang each other's songs, Silent Night and Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel, dressed in pajamas and bathrobes with our hair in pink rollers and Dippity-Doo because we could, since it was after eleven o'clock curfew and the men weren't allowed in.

Christmas for me has always been about music as much as anything else. I was walking across campus that year shortly before Christmas break, in the dark, past the lighted windows of, oh, I forget the name of the building, it's gone now, replaced by a much fancier gymnasium. Back in the day it was a big wood frame building painted dark green. There the modern dance club, Orchesis, practiced their art. As I passed, all alone out there, I heard them dancing to the most astounding music. My memory plays the sound of their bare feet striking the hardwood floor, but I probably didn't hear that. What I did hear was my first experience of medieval music. It might have been a recording by the New York Pro Musica Antiqua. I was riveted. I stood there listening until I got too cold to stand there anymore.

Ever since then, Christmas hasn't been complete for me without old music. We usually sing one or two old pieces at St. Andrews. This year we're singing Gaudete.


And a merry Christmas to you. Or a happy Hanukkah.

Kate Gallison

1 comment:

  1. Kate, this is great. And thanks for the music. I was years ahead and several miles northwest when I was at the College of St. Elizabeth. We never had men in our dorms. My father needed to be accompanied by a nun when he came on moving-in day, Freshman Year, to help me put up my drapes! But we did have great Medieval music--the Middle Ages being the heyday of the RCC. Merry Christmas to you and yours.