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A Classical Christmas

A Classical Christmas
Posted on 12/14/2020
A Classical Christmas

My earliest memories from Christmas have a distinctive soundtrack. As we opened our gifts on Christmas morning, the sound of my father’s records used to fill the living room with the voices of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, belting out all the familiar carols. One record I remember distinctly was Handel’s Messiah, which my father, a passionate aficionado of classical music, loved to hum along to. Some years, the timing would come together felicitously, and one of us little munchkins would find ourselves pulling back the wrapping on some long-desired toy just as the Hallelujah chorus would ring out.

Thinking back to those early Christmas mornings, it seems clear to me now that the best gift my father gave me then was the playing of those records. The bars of that gorgeous music lodged themselves in my burgeoning mind, insinuating there a vision of beauty that I have never quite lost sight of. The gift my father gave me then, and throughout my childhood, was the gift of that vision, to form and console me through the many (too many!) years since we sat listening together.

This year, I have received another profound gift. Having admired the classical schooling movement for such a long time, this year I have been given the opportunity to become part of that movement. To me, this has meant finding a place where I could share my own love for the humanities with students and colleagues, and throw my energies into an academic program that can make such a meaningful difference in the lives of young people. No one could ask for more out of their work.

There is a clear affinity between this gift and the one my father gave me. For at the heart of classical education lies this commitment to transmitting the cultural and intellectual treasures which we ourselves have received. As classical educators, we strive to convey to our students that same exhilaration which we ourselves felt in our early years when we first encountered the riches of our heritage. What we have been given, we give. What we have been blessed with, we pass along to our students as a blessing. And what has been a source of ineffable happiness in our own lives, we seek to make a source of happiness to others.

So this Christmas, mindful of gifts from the near and distant past, I am filled with gratitude for all I have been given, and for all that my role as a classical educator allows me to give.

Merry Christmas!