Friday 25 December

Tuesday was a heavy workday starting with carol-singing at an old peoples’ home in Tampa. Unfortunately I had been given the wrong address so it took me 25 minutes to discover where I ought to be! In the event I was still early … my dad would have ben proud!

Then it was back to the office before taking up an invitation to lunch from the seniors’ club at St Lawrence. During the afternoon I bought more equipment for the church. A few weeks ago I had bought a PA system from Goodwill for $30 and now decided to purchase new cables and various connectors to make it suit our purposes. I returned to set it up for testing the following morning.

The rest of the day was spent in last minute preparations for choir practice, the last before Christmas. After the rehearsal I was able to do a detailed rehearsal with our soloist for ‘O Holy Night’.

On Wednesday morning I met with our tech guy to test the sound system for the first Mass of Christmas in Higgins Hall. We were both baffled as to why it did not work. I had followed the instructions of the guy in the shop (except for one detail). we contacted the shop and out he came and spotted our simple error instantly. Now more relaxed I was able to prepare for the staff Christmas lunch and the carols immediately preceding that. The meal was excellent and was followed by presents. Each member of staff was asked to buy something for $20 and bring it anonymously to the party. What followed was rather complicated but the results was that my present, a bottle of single malt (more than $20!), a teaspoon and a couple of vocation to the priesthood leaflets became rather desirable. In the final moments I lost a remote controlled helicopter and ended up with a wonderful paella set. My whiskey changed hands several times.

During the afternoon I had a brief meeting and then returned home for a rest.

On Thursday I awoke from a good sleep and was in work by midday. The Deacon wanted to do a final check of the sound system and then the Pastor had ‘an idea’. Of course all this happens when you are running out of time to put the finishing touches to the trumpet parts  but you just have to oblige. At 3pm I had a rehearsal with a scratch choir for the Mass and also for the preceding nativity play. All went well and the new microphones and system made all the effort worthwhile. The Mass was attended by well over 1000 parishioners which was way it was transferred to the Higgins Hall. The whole thing was done with great organisation and dignity. My arrangement of Silent Night received instant applause which was both gratifying and inappropriate! At the end of Mass there then began the task of transporting all the gear back to the church. The promised group of helpers did not materialise and it was left to one usher, myself and some conscripts.

Back at the church I had to sort everything and establish what I needed for the next Mass and set up. By the time the Cantor arrived to rehearse I was beginning to ‘glow’ but was delighted that she had done her preparation and the rehearsal was short. The Mass went well and after a quick ‘Dieu parmi nous’ by Messiaen I adjourned to an American restaurant for something to eat. I had not eaten since 9am and it was now 8pm. Then I returned to the office to assemble music for the midnight Mass. News came through that 2 men would be absent struck down by some malady. One was the soloist for ‘O Holy Night’. I substituted this for Bernadette Farrell’s ‘Peace Child’ sung by Amanda who had earlier sung this on the radio.

The Mass went well and the choir were singled out for warm thanks. I was back home by 1.45am but could not sleep so had a quick slurp before hitting the sack.

Fortunately my friend Marty had offered to cover the first Mass at 7.30am so I was able to grab more sleep than I had expected and awoke at 8.15am. I was in church by 9am for a rehearsal with the Cantor and then the three Masses at 9.30, 11 and 1230. Then I was free!

One of our instrumentalists had invited me to share dinner with them. The meal was wonderful as the host, our flautist Jessica and her family, was a more than proficient chef. I left at 6pm but was too late to contact my family so I adjourned to the bar where I met up with friends.

I was back at a reasonable hour and had a gentle reparation for sleep which I am sure will come at once!

Merry Christmas, to all my readers!

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