How speedily December goes by, every second filled with something I ought to be doing! Warm temperatures have enticed me to sneak out to my garden. I’m amazed at the inroads made by mint. When I moved here 22 years ago mint was rampant in the then-neglected garden. I’ve battled to eradicate it. Huge clumps of vigorous white roots encroach beneath places where no hint shows on the late autumn surface. I toss bushels of roots into the wet area at the bottom of the yard. The bare roots have a pleasant, minty fragrance. I’m delighted to be outside gardening on the 10th of December, with still no sign of a hard frost.Admittedly I’ve scaled back the holidays now that I’m older. Taming Christmas to manageable proportions, means there’s more time for things I truly love. I set time aside for husband Don and me to attend the Family Christmas Concert at St. Therese of Lisieux Church right here in Montauk. I truly look forward to this event and consider it a highlight of the season.
From year to year this concert has a common thread, it’s performed mostly by musically gifted people who live in Montauk and neighboring towns. The program, under the auspices of highly talented St. Therese Music Director Jane Hastay, is comprised of both sacred and familiar Christmas and holiday music, and also includes melodies I’ve never heard before. The St. Therese Spanish choir also takes the stage to bring back memories for Don and me of our years in San Diego.
This year’s concert opened with pastor Thomas Murray singing and playing acoustic guitar to introduce and accompany the St. Therese Little Flower Choir, which is made up of 24 elementary school-age girls, some as young as kindergarteners. The girls wore festive holiday attire and matching headbands, each with a big sparkling, snowflake. I asked husband Don, “Where’s all the little boys?” “Boys just don’t like to sing that much,” Don theorized. Father Tom also sang a longer solo, “Mary Did You Know,” later in the program. Father Tom has a fine tenor voice!
A dignified, tall red haired young man, John Anthony Miller, performed on piano. His selection was, “Ukrainian Carol of the Bells.” Kailey Marmeno sang “I’ve Got Christmas Joy in my Heart,” solo, while playing acoustic guitar. Jane Hastay on piano, husband Peter Martin Weiss, along with violinist Bob Stern, provided very polished accompaniment for most of the evening’s choral presentations. Mr. Stern also gave a lilting Celtic violin solo of “Christmas Hearth.”
The St. Therese recorder group performed next. Among their selections were, “Good King Wenceslas,” and a medley of “The Holly and the Ivy” and “Deck the Halls,” perfect old time melodies for the mellow sound of the recorders.
Soloist Debbie Coen, “the voice of a dove,” sang, “In the Bleak Midwinter,” accompanying herself on acoustic guitar. Earlier, Deb’s granddaughter, Tilly, led the Little Flowers in a duet with friend Cloé. Tilly’s younger sister, Abi, is also in Little Flower choir. I was seated next to the girls’ parents, Rob and Jessie Martin, who were holding youngest daughter Ruby, a toddler, on their laps. Rob said it was a “very proud moment,” for him and his wife.
The adult choir of St. Therese Church graced the occasion with an exquisite performance, notably, “The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came,” “The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and other songs entirely new to me.
Vincent Downing, with a jaunty red scarf around his neck, posed as town crier and opened the carol, “Wake From Your Sleep.” Christa Inha, disguised by a lace trimmed red velvet mob cap, appeared as Mrs. St. Nicholas and, accompanied by Marion Lindberg on clarinet, performed two solos in German of special delight to children, one of which was the poignant, “Stille, Stille, Stille.”
The most moving performance of a wonderful evening was Cheryl Erb’s vocal solo, “Oh Holy Night.” Ms. Erb commenced in very low key, gradually ascending to the thrilling crescendo of this beloved carol. Her big, powerful voice earned a standing ovation, which she humbly and tearfully acknowledged. Ms. Erb is a teacher’s aide at St. Therese preschool and a founding member of the Montauk Community Garden.
Christmas Eve Family Mass at St. Therese Church will take place at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, December 24. Spanish Mass follows at 7 p.m., as well as Midnight Mass. Christmas Day Masses are at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m.
Montauk Community Church Children’s Christmas Service is this Sunday, December 20, at 10 a.m. Christmas Eve Worship begins at 5:30 p.m. on December 24.
Phi Sigma Theta is proud to announce that Tyler Restrepo, son of Lynden Restrepo and Ricardo Restrepo, has recently become a member of Phi Sigma Theta National Honor Society at the University of South Carolina. According to a press release, Phi Sigma Theta is a national honor society dedicated to recognizing and rewarding academic achievement in undergraduates at institutes of higher learning.
The Montauk Playhouse Community Center Foundation will hold a Holiday Cookie Exchange Party this Friday, December 18, at 4:30 p.m. in the Playhouse lobby. Bring a plate of your holiday cookies, leave with a new plate of mixed favorites. Winners of the Playhouse’s Gingerbread House Contest will be announced at the party.
The Friends of the Montauk Library free movie series continues today, December 16, with “Ricki & The Flash,” featuring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline. Screening starts at 7 p.m.
Lastly, a reminder, books make great holiday gifts! The library offers shelves of them, all free with a donation. I enjoy selecting books, on loan, from the charming holiday books the library staff thoughtfully provides on display for the season. What’s more cozy than to curl up in a comfy chair with a good book, a cup of hot cocoa or mulled cider, and a plateful of holiday treats!