The Rush and the Hush

 (Photo credit of these Christmas scenes from our home goes to my wonderful student and clarinet son, Vincent Crump.)

‘Tis the season for madness. I always wonder at a holiday that is all about peace, celebration, and love that ends up at times being more about stress and anxiety. How does that happen? Personally, I know that I try to cram way too much into a short amount of time. I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to have children to shop for and large families to cook for. I get stressed out enough just finishing the semester. 


The day began peacefully with rain and fog. You might call it dreary, but to me it made the city look like Brigadoon- magic. There would be no snuggling up at home to enjoy the quiet peace, though, as there were exams and playing juries to give and listen to, followed by our clarinet studio Christmas bash that Dan and I hosted. With both of us working full tilt, preparing for the party was a challenge, but we’re a good team and managed between the two of us to be ready when the doorbell rang before 6pm and twenty-two college students filled our home with pot-luck offerings, exuberance, and lots of laughter.

Each time we gather with my studio, I am reminded what great humans they are. They are all very different people; black, white, Latino, gay, straight, Christian, non-Christian- but they love and support each other like one big family. In these turbulent days, my students give me hope and peace, knowing that our world is in good hands with them as our future. 

Silly and serious…our traditional studio photos. 

It’s tough for Dan and I to handle all of the noise and chaos of so many young people packed into our old house. Every nook and cranny seemed to be taken over. Our introvert selves became almost comotose at one point, experiencing a surreal moment where we sat quietly on the couch together as the house swirled with activity around us. We are so used to the often tomb-like solitude of our home (interrupted by the occasional barking of Coops and Sophie), that this was quite the challenge- a good challenge, though. 

This is what Coops and Sophie thought of the proceedings…


It’s always so fun to see our home through the eyes of my students, especially the freshmen who had never visited before. As I took them on a tour from the first floor all the way up  to the top deck and guest house, they ooh’d and ahh’d about the view, the decorations, and the house, several asking when they could move in. Dan and I love our funky old home so much, and enjoy hearing feedback about how cozy and quirky it is,always saying, “Mission accomplished!” 


Once the last student had headed down the hill, the last dishes were put in the dishwasher, and the house set back to normal, we collapsed on the couch with the pups and enjoyed the quiet hiss and solitude of the fireplace, holding hands, recharging our batteries. It’s always worth the work and the sometimes stress to open our home to people we care about, especially to celebrate the holidays. They remind us of how blessed we are to know so many wonderful people, and to be grateful for our home, our ‘Chez Gainey’- the house that love built. It’s a special place- a touchstone for us, and never more beautiful in spirit than it is when decorated for Christmas. The rush and the hush of the holidays…I’ll take it all- every moment of it, gratefully. 


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