So I have been meaning to blog about my Christmas Carroll Eve experience this year for over a week, but when I received this picture as a gift from Angie, my grad assistant, I finally got the nudge to tell the story.
First a little background info – Christmas Carroll Eve is a neat traditional event at John Carroll that I have had the pleasure of coordinating for the past few years. It has been around for tons of years and involves choral music, caroling, a tree lighting, a mass and a late night feast. It is a really special event that students, staff and community members look forward to each year. Last year was the first year that I let Zach come with me to enjoy the evening. It is a very late night with the feast starting at midnight. He enjoyed it last year and wanted to come with me again this year.
Cut to the evening of Sat, Dec 10. The evening began with the concerts – first the choir and then the jazz band, with an intermission in between. Zach eyed the cello on stage when we got there so that meant that we HAD to sit in the second row so we could see it well. He re-met a student he remembered from last year who has a beautiful voice (EBJ) and was given the important task of taping her solo on her phone. He did a great job taping and was completely focused on the stage for the entire choir part. Not once did he tell me he was bored or ask me when it would be done (very unlike this kid). After intermission, chatting with some students and eating way too many cookies, we went back in for the jazz band. We we in for a treat! We were excited to see another student (O’Dell) that Zach knew from the summer playing the saxophone. Not even 2 minutes into the first piece, he leans over to me and informs me that he wants to play saxophone next year! He had to go backstage and talk to O’Dell which resulted in a picture, of course!
We continued our evening at the student center where the women’s accapella group was leading a Christmas carol sing-along. Since his new buddy EBJ was the leader of the group, Zach managed to insert himself in with all the students and sang with them to lead the singing. See pic – it is a little dark, but just look for the Santa hat in the center.
At the end of this event was the tree lighting. We drew names of students who entered a contest to light the tree this year. Zach drew the names of about 6 names of students, but none were still at the event. Eventually after a very unsuccessful drawing, one of the priests asked the crowd, “Who thinks we should let Zachary light the tree this year?!” At this point I think most of the room knew that Zachary was the kid with the Santa hat on so there was a thunderous applause of approval for Zach to light the tree. He runs up to me and tells me that he is going to say something before he plugs in the tree. Oh, this could be interesting, I thought. I told him that was probably not a good idea, all the while knowing that he most definitely was going to do it anyway. After the priest gave a short blessing, it was Zach’s big moment. I look over to where the outlet is and all I hear in Zach’s 9-year-old voice is , “fire in the hole!!!” before the tree lights up. Everyone in earshot cracks up including me!! This kid is not shy at all! I looked around, thankful that the university president was not in the room.
At the 11pm Mass my little comedian decides to take a snooze. I’m thinking he is totally out for the night and wondering how and if he will make it through the breakfast. During the last song, Joy to the World, however, he perks up and asks if it is time for food! This kid is the energizer bunny!
We went over to the feast and what to our wondering eyes did appear? A chocolate fountain with all the accoutrements – oh dear! We waited in a long line, but it was so worth it!! Zach enjoyed some chocolate covered pretzels, marshmallows and rice krispee treats! Of course this was after a plate of pancakes! We sat with Angie and some of her friends and enjoyed the food. All of a sudden Zach is smiling and tapping the chair next to him. “Sit here with us!” he tells EBJ who was walking by with a plate of chocolate covered wonderfulness. She sits down with us and we chat for awhile longer. Now, I don’t know if it was the chocolate, the late hour, or just Christmas fun, but Zach started regaling the group with stories about our dog, Henry and it was hilarious. We were all punchy and laughing so hard that we couldn’t catch our breath! He was also telling EBJ all about my website…”it is easy, just go to itsjustlisa.com and you can read all about stories of Henry!”. What is he, my PR man now, or what?!
The coup de gras for the night was when Zach exclaimed that he wasn’t going to play the saxophone next year – he was going to play the Zaxophone!! I died laughing right there – there were tears!! When there was a lull in the conversation, I overheard this coming from the next table over…”fire in the hole!”. OMG – the priest from the tree lighting was retelling the story to other people at his table…including the President!! We looked over, waived, and smiled and I took that as my cue to exit – stage right. Well, that, and it was 1:10am!!
In the car on the way home, with Zach fast asleep and me feeling like a terrible mom for keeping him out that late, I reflected on the evening with a smile on my face. What a wonderful time with my son. If I could bottle up the feeling I had watching him enjoy the music, singing with the students, lighting that tree and laughing his fool head off, I would. All I could think of to describe that night was JOY. I will never forget that special night of Christmas joy with my little dude.
Merry Christmas and may you experience some of your very own Christmas joy!!