A Family Tradition

My nuclear family consists of a liberal philosopher, a conservative, a straddler, an environmentalist, and a borderline religious fundamentalist. We get along fine, likely with the help of agreeing to disagree.

One of our few but lasting traditions is to attend the Christmas Eve service, once per year, with inertia of tradition and one of the people mentioned above. I had also brought my partner for the last couple.

We were likely noticed as somewhat outsiders as we had never attended this locale before and were late to the event, nestling in the back of the cold room on a cold night.

I like the sound of the organ, the intensity, and its novelty. We were used to hearing basic organs and pianos but a pipe organ is a real treat.

Everything was going along as best as we could expect, until we hit a tipping point during the service, near the end, with this piece:

The tipping point was of laughter, particularly around the higher notes from about 2 minutes in.

We couldn’t control ourselves.

We found that the song was called Les Anges by Olivier Messiaen. It’s not in my top 5 but this was a memorable experience.

We were the last ones in, laughed during the service, and the first ones out only to find the minister herself thanking attendees on the way out. She may have caught our laughter, but everyone was smiling anyway.

I look forward to doing it again this year.

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