Thursday, December 4, 2008

Study carols

My holiday spirit has been climbing, as I start humming Christmas carols, and the Michigan Theater shows a number of holiday films (last week: The Bishop's Wife, one of my favorites; this week: White Christmas!). But this set of three articles from Brian Eno, Robert Fulghum, and Joan Tower caught my holiday-sensitive attention.

Reading these articles, my first thought was the summer camp I attend for folk dancing, where singing, dancing, and living are blended into a continuous communal activity for a week. It's a beautiful thing, feeling that bond through the voice, the hand, the smile, knowing you're among friends.

But it's also a crucial part of my holidays. I love caroling. I didn't do it last year. My friends Mary and Evan held a caroling event the first two years here, where we wandered around Ann Arbor, rang doorbells, and just sang. Sometimes, it angered the person, or maybe just bored them. But those moments of sudden connection, of their memories and our new-made ones made it worthwhile. Ruth and Emlen Cresson hold a carol party every year in Philadelphia. Now in their late 80s, these long time staples of the Philadelphia dance community have had to stop dancing due to health reasons. A couple years ago, I made it back for their party, where people call out their favorites, and we just sing. Who knew so much feeling could come out of a simple act? Last year--after the annual New Years Scottish dance (all 6 hours of it!), there's a pot-luck get together for hanging out--the jam session turned into a spontaneous carol sing. Even a week after Christmas, it feels just as warm and fresh. Yes, and necessary.

It's nice to be reminded out of the blue, in the middle of paper-writing season, of the whole reason I'm in this, namely that music is a passion of mine, but it's a passion I can share. I can't sing all that well, and am barely proficient at piano, and even the writing about it gets called into question now and then. But what I do have is that love, and most importantly, friends to share it with.


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