What Christmas Block Means to Me


As a Senior, now I’m part of the magic.

My freshmen year, I was an angel in the Nativity. After the last note of the last song had faded out, and the angels and shepherds filed out of the Big Room, the audience was so silent you could hear a pin drop. I stood at the top of the stairs, still in my costume, and looked down upon the dark, crowded room. People of all ages, from the High Mowing community and beyond, had come to watch the Nativity that night, and every one of them was as still as stone, collectively holding their breath. No clapping, murmuring, or fidgeting at all until, finally, someone quietly got up to leave. That’s when I knew that there’s something special about Christmas Block at High Mowing.

More moments came to affirm this realization: Singing in the darkened chapel and holding a candle while the flame was passed around the circle, illuminating the faces of the whole school one by one. Then, being pulled outside by a chain of other students at the Yule Festival, singing and laughing as we tried not to fall, and lastly, watching in awe at the energy of the Snow Goose Party as it started with musical chairs and ended with ‘kissing’ games.

Late one night in my Junior year, Eunice knocked on my door and I tiptoed down to her studio where I learned her intricate frosting techniques and was shown how a real Christmas cookie should be decorated. We stayed up past midnight, Eunice and I and a few other upperclassmen, nibbling the frosting and experimenting with designs, making them more and more elaborate.

Now in my senior year I have a clearer view of the logistics of Christmas Block, from having to plan much of it. I realize that these things didn’t just happen; this atmosphere needs to be purposefully created. This hasn’t made it any less magical, and the moments are still coming.

Because that’s what Christmas Block is: it’s not about a religion or a holiday and it’s more than any one of its traditions, more than all of them combined. Christmas Block is a feeling that visits you for a moment, then leaves. Over and over, like a tiny flame being kindled and going out, only to be rekindled. It’s students gathered around last year’s Christmas Book, turning the pages in reverence. It’s the Nativity songs floating through the building even when rehearsal is not going on. It’s the same thing every year, and every year it feels as precious as ever.

My first senior-year moment was last week. At the first Angels rehearsal, Patrice had all the angels stand in a circle and do Eurythmy exercises to prepare us for our roles. As we raised our hands from our sides and turned our palms up, trying to feel as light as air, I knew that at this time next year, the same exact scene will be unfolding in the Big Room. I won’t be here to partake in it, but wherever I am, I know I’ll take joy in the fact that it’s happening just the same. Because the cool thing about Christmas Block is this: At the darkest time of the year, we are celebrating that little fire that’s within each of us. And you don’t have to be at High Mowing to feel that.
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