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ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS

I realize memories are fickle and unreliable, but I like mine a lot. It’s probably a sign of age, or more likely because there is little I need for Christmas, but I wish for these impossible things this year.

1.              I wish my parents would go to Massey Hall in Toronto (what a grand-sounding name) to hear Handel’s Messiah again.

What I do recall is crowding around Mom the next morning, anxious to hear the details of their evening out. She would tell us about Lois Marshall, the perennial soprano soloist, who sang like an angel, and my childish mind was in awe as Mom described her, always called by her first name, as if she were a friend. I imagined how beautiful she must have looked in her long gown, crossing the stage using crutches, because she’d once had polio. I’d never seen anyone use them and I was a bit envious.

I want them to get dressed up after supper and go out, leaving us — with whom? I don’t remember, although having someone else stay with us was as unusual as our parents heading to the city at night.

When I was twenty, I performed The Messiah with a large choir, and whenever the soprano sang her solos I thought of Lois.

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