Today in My History
Needs a New Elf
Books Read in 2019
THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST
December 23, 2019
I found video of an "Egg Nog Gala" performed in 1987, perhaps one of the last to be given, after many years of delighting Christmas audiences.
More than 30 years ago, The Lamplighters needed money. They decided to throw themselves a marvelous party. At the time they wondered if it might not be their last gasp.
They called it a "champagne gala" and it was a potpourri of musical numbers, followed by an all-the-champagne-you-can-drink reception. The thing was wildly successful and became one of the most anticipated fund raisers of The Lamplighters year. It closed out the calendar year, and started our holiday season, as it was usually scheduled for the first week in December.
The kids came to connect the Champagne Gala to our Christmas festivities.
In 1977, the year the city of Davis first presented "The Davis Children’s Nutcracker," which may have been our kids' first theatrical experience. The kids decided to bring their new theatrical expertise to the living room by putting on a show for the family on Christmas night. Since they were too young to drink champagne, it was called "the Egg Nog Gala," and at the end of the show, everyone was served a glass of (virgin) egg nog.
In my scrapbooks, I came across the program for The First Annual Egg Nog Gala:
Egg Nog Galas continued for at least ten years and most of my happiest Christmas memories revolve around these shows.
There were frequently funny skits. One of my favorites was a re-enactment of the Nativity, with Mary (Jeri) 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, such as this video, music was the entire Egg Nog Gala because they were too old to do funny skits any more). 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.
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. In this particular video, the song expands into something unexpected.
I do miss those Egg Nog Galas. They were
definitely some of the best times of the kids' "growing-up Christmases."
PHOTO OF THE DAY
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