Carol MacEwan Powers '69
"At the end of the evening, and perhaps the highlight for me, was the singing of O Holy Night by a member of the senior class."
By the time I entered my freshman year in the fall of 1965, I was very familiar with many of the St. Mary's traditions, having arrived on campus in 1955 as a four year old faculty child. One of my fondest memories, both as a faculty child and as a student, is that of the Christmas Party and the associated music and traditions.
There was always tremendous excitement at the Christmas Party which as a young child I attributed to the impending arrival of Santa, but I later realized it was because exams were over and Christmas vacation would start the next day!
The girls wore their most special party dresses and there were candles, a special Christmas feast and a number of special guests....and of course the eventual arrival of Santa. In the early days and in the old main building, the girls carried candles and the underclassmen lined the stairs. The lights were dimmed and Miss Jenks was escorted down the stairs by two seniors, in somewhat grand fashion as I recall, as the girls sang Silent Night. Eventually everyone took their seats for the singing of grace. This tradition remained basically the same over the years.
Grace at the Christmas Party was the singing of Dona Nobis Pacem, with the parts divided between the great hall, music room and library. The effect of this lovely and simple canon coming from the three rooms was truly beautiful and was always a favorite part for me. After dinner we sang Christmas Carols while waiting for Santa (played by a faculty member). We had some great Santas! My father, I believe, played Santa just once and always said he was the skinniest Santa the school ever had and that he had a hard time keeping the pants and pillow properly placed as he handed out the presents.
At the end of the evening, and perhaps the highlight for me, was the singing of O Holy Night by a member of the senior class. It was a huge honor to be chosen and it was always a big secret as to who had been selected. Over the years I had the privilege not only of hearing 13 other seniors sing O Holy Night, but I also had the honor or being chosed to sing it in my senior year. It was a special moment for me and one I have always cherished.
Growing up at St. Mary's was an experience unlike any other. I am one of a fortunate few and even after all these years I still consider the campus to be my childhood home. I look forward to getting back to the mountains soon!