My home office is overgrown with stuff, primarily papers, CDs, books, memorabilia and then some cloth from all over in boxes. And then there is the furniture; anything that doesn’t fit anyplace in the house came to my office because it used to be the one with unused space. But the measure is full now and I have been fantasizing about an office makeover.

Sita was excited about that idea too, until she walked into the office and realized that I needed to some weeding first and told me the makeover had to wait until the place was uncluttered. After a day of hemming and hawing I finally made a start this morning by throwing out lecture and seminar notes and readings that were 40 years old. To the untrained eye it looks like nothing changed but four hours of cleaning produced two bags of paper for recycling and another with rubbish. With a little bit of luck Sita may reconsider the makeover.

Saturday evening and Sunday evening we went caroling. Saturday in Gloucester the singing was more of a jubilation, with several guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, a small harp, a key board and a piano. The management and orchestration was in the great hands of our friend Andy who knows a bit about Christmas carols and a large crowd. We ended with a formidable rendering of Hallelujah, sopranos in one small room of their enormous Victorian house, altos on the staircase, tenors in the parlor, bases in the hallway.

The power of music and singing together made me want to pick up my violin again – the one instrument that was missing. I was reminded of our West African Grass days in Senegal, with our Sunday morning practice, more than forty years ago.

On Sunday we caroled at Diane’s, also a family tradition. Accompanied by a pianist, with a smaller and older crowd, we sang more or less the same songs, not quite as grand a performance but joyful too. Here too we divided the 12 days of gifting, more or less by family rather than part of the house, creating (in both cases) much hilarity as the competition (to be the loudest) gets fierce. The group with the most youngsters always outperforms the others.

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December 2012
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