1997 - I was in shock really as a freshman when I made it into a choir at St. Olaf despite not being in choir in High School (I was in church choir). It was glorious. 100 women singing with Sig alternately leaving us adoring or scared sh*tless by her perfect pitch. It was a TV year that first year on campus, which meant mandatory makeup and the hymns had to be memorized completely. I remember riding home for Thanksgiving with my ex-boyfriend, a sophomore at St. Olaf, singing hymns in his boat of a car to memorize them. I remember being squished on the risers. Since I was on the end of Mantiou I was next to the Ole Choir baritones and was more than enamored by their deep voices and rich purple velvet robes. If they had wanted a geeky freshman with inexpertly applied makeup I was right there waiting. I remember watching Christmas Fest on TV that Christmas Eve mortified by my one close-up preserving for all its glory my "singing" face.
1998-1999 - Christmas Fest is on again. A beautiful time full for friends and ditching homework for yet another concert. You are tired but energized at the same time. The music stirs your soul. Even though it is cold outside your heart is warm during the Fest. Of course that could be all the heat from the bodies on the risers. Behind the Ole Choir basses now. When they stand to sing it is an excellent view.
2000 - I can hardly stand it. It is my last Christmas Fest. What if I never sing here again? Every note is bittersweet as I'll never get to experience it again. I failed to make it into Ole Choir and will never have an opportunity to head straight to the racquetball court to close the evening in song as a choir. Every time Dr. A lifts his hands and the strains of Beautiful Savior die away I am caught up in tears. Luckily though I am in love and Mr. Goat is there to find me in the crowd to kiss the pain away - him in his Chapel choir robe, me in my Cantorei one. We always seem to be on opposite "teams" but we know that those colors don't matter.
2001 - I managed to score a solitary ticket to watch Christmas Fest. I sit in the bleachers, leaning forward hoping to get swallowed up in the sound around me. I wish I could go back, just for a moment and be a part of it. As the music swells throughout the night though I realize that I am a part of it still, even though it is a different part now. I'm one of the Norwegian sweaters now, but it is a company I'm glad to keep.
2002 - It is Mr. Goat's final year and he is there decked in the coveted purple velvet. My dream from freshman year is true - I have my Ole Choir baritone. The purple velvet is just as wonderful to cuddle into as I'd always imagined. I am sorry that Mr. Goat has reached his final year but am looking forward to a time when I can hold his hand and sit with him among the sweaters.
2003-2007 - We beg, borrow and steal to get into Christmas Fest each year. No matter what the schedule, school work or job we find a way to get there. And we hold hands in the darkness and listen to the promise of Light coming into the world.
2008 - Baby goat is there this year too, ensconced safely in utero. When the choirs sing he dances within me as if he knows what beautiful things can happen out in this world. My heart threatens to burst with joy for it all. Perhaps there will sometime be an occasion to hug purple velvet again one day.
2009 - Tonight we go back. A date, a rest, a time for worship. It has been a year full of the unexpected. Unexpected challenges and unexpected blessings. Tonight though I will hold hands with my Ole Choir baritone and breath deeply the music that feeds my soul. When the strains of Beautiful Savior die away, I will sit in silence, likely crying with joy, filled again for the coming year.