Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Topic #2
What is your favorite holiday tradition, new or old?

Again, you look back over 68 years of holidays and it's difficult to pick out just one. But I would say that over the years, my favorite memories always concern the Egg Nog Gala.

In 1967, the Lamplighters needed money and decided to throw a fund raiser. They called it a champagne gala and it was a potpourri of musical numbers, preceded by a fire backstage (accidental!), and followed by an all-the-champagne-you-can-drink reception (planned), with champagne donated by Weibel Vineyards. The thing was wildly successful and has become one of the most anticipated fund raisers of The Lamplighters year today, with originally written, very funny scripts and always the champagne reception (though now The Lamplighters buys the bubbly and charges high prices for tickets to the show).

Originally, the Champagne Gala closed out the Lamplighter year, and kind of started our holiday season, as it was usually scheduled for the first week in December.

We have gone to the Lamplighters gala ever since the very first one and at some point during our children's early years, when they had begun to get the theater bug, they decided to put on their own gala only since they were too young to drink champagne, they served egg nog instead and called it "The Egg Nog Gala."

The first one consisted of two piano solos by Paul, a drum solo by Ned, 3 piano solos by Jeri, "The Little Drummer Boy" with Jeri on piano, Ned on drums and the other three singing, there was a "Night before Christmas" skit (with David as the "stirring mouse"), a puppet show with Jeri as the puppeteer and Ned working the curtain.

Egg Nog Galas continued for about 10 years and my happiest Christmas memories revolve around these shows.

There were frequently funny skits. There was "bubble gum," where the idea was that a line of people each encountered a piece of discarded gum, each in successively more disgusting ways, until the last person actually put the gum in his/her mouth. This skit was repeated on camping trips with other kids from our Newman group and was a staple of skits for many years.

One of my favorite skits was a re-enactment of the Nativity, with Mary going into a very graphic labor and delivery of a stuffed animal at the end. God did not smite us for that skit, but it certainly was one of the more hilarious nativities anyone has ever seen.

As the kids grew older and their musical abilities improved, music played a major part in the Egg Nog Gala (in the waning days, music was the entire Egg Nog Gala). With Jeri being able to play piano, clarinet, flute or saxophone, there were lots of possibilities, with Ned and Paul both playing the guitar and Ned the drum--plus anybody could play some rhythm instrument or a kazoo.

1986 Egg Nog Gala

When we had foreign students staying with us (as we did for about 10 years worth of Christmases), they were roped into performing as well, sometimes reluctantly, sometimes eagerly--usually with some embarrassment, because they had never "performed" before.

One of the highlights of any show was David's famous rendition of "Deck the Halls." David never took formal music lessons for any length of time but he managed to pick out a one-fingered version of "Deck the Halls" on the piano and, especially as he got older, it became funnier and funnier. The last time he performed for the family (he was in high school at the time, and still doing the one-finger rendition), his uncle Norm sat down and played his version of "Deck the Halls," with the same one finger, and same intense concentration.

I do miss those Egg Nog Galas. They were definitely some of the best times of the kids' "growing-up Christmases."

Egg Nog Gala
(This was the Christmas when Ned was living in Brasil)

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