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Happy Holidays to all you wonderful folks....


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Hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas. I thought it was a great Christmas because we didn't have to spend hours in the car. We had a great zoom session with the kids and grandkids. Plus we had dusting of snow later in the day as we were watching the movie White Christmas! It was a very good a Christmas.

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It poured down rain, running through our garage but not flooding our basement. Washed away all the snow, though, and then turned bitter cold and icy. We had a nice Zoom church service Christmas Eve, and a few relatives from far and wide tuned in for a bit of it so got to see some faces, wave hello. FaceTimed with grandson/our "kids" yesterday. Still haven't heard from DIL when we can Messenger Live our granddaughters. They run an inn/restaurant in PA so were shut down by the governor and could only offer take-out for Christmas and New Year's. They aren't busy but are bored and depressed and broke. Plus son just had neck/back fusion and can't drive or work or pick up his daughters. One of their former employees has Covid; hasn't been an employee since last March, though. My ill/housebound sister in IL attended the National Cathedral's Zoom Blue Christmas service, so that tells you how she's doing. She hasn't been available yet for a phone call from us. All in all, hubby and I are having some relaxing holiday time with Stew Leonard's pick-up filet dinner with all the sides that's lasting us about three dinners and watching movies/Netflix/Prime and both of us getting some work done (he's teaching piano today via FaceTime, and I'm doing a few more hours of on-demand 2020 tax updates). We put up some decorations, received a photo book of our grandson's first year in the mail, a few presents. Hubby's director of music at our church, and I'm a frequent liturgical assistant and bell ringer, so Christmas is usually a frantic build-up. This year, Steve had all the music recorded ahead of time (including three bell-ringers with two bells in each hand) and I was reading the same Christmas readings and leading the prayers, but all sitting down at home with Steve (instead of him in the church balcony and me at the prayer desk) while he was the audio/visual guy pulling up the music and sharing his screen at the appropriate times. We got to have much more music than on recent Sundays, so that was festive. I miss hugging my grandchildren/seeing my grandchildren but overall the differences this year were positive: seeing relatives that are far away, less stress (especially since our "midnight" service was at 8 pm), self-quarantining with a husband I love, etc. Hope you all can have a Happy Holiday Season in a different way this year. After all, it's our pre-tax season, too!

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I missed most of the week leading up to the holiday and our first tiny live tree in years, but did finally have a nice Christmas after all.  The previous Friday evening I started with a high fever of 103.5+ that Tylenol wasn't touching. 🤒🥵 I was isolated and alone in a spare bedroom and bathroom the whole week and worried the whole time of what I had and what illness I'd exposed my mom and husband to. The exception to my quarantine was for a Covid test on Tuesday afternoon where my husband and I drove in separate cars.

Christmas Eve I got the best prezzie, a negative test result!  My husband got his negative result on Christmas morning.

Glad everyone else here is doing so well.  ❤️

 

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I'm the old lady in the middle. We're a tiny church in a tiny town, so don't have enough volunteers to ring handbells very often. I accuse my husband, the music director, of marrying me to make sure he has at least one handbell ringer for Christmas Eve! If this were a normal year with live choirs instead of pre-recorded music, the younger gal on the right would be singing in the choir and not available for handbells. I've done four-in-hand very, very seldom; three-in-hand a bit; and even that was more often needed to add a bell to a hand for a particular passage and then return to just one in that hand. Hubby Steve found handbell music that could use three, four, or five ringers with NO shared bells. We were close together for a minute for Steve to snap the pictures on his iPhone to pick one for the bulletin. Otherwise, we rehearsed 20+ feet apart, masked, with the windows/doors open, and for less than 30 minutes for about three rehearsals. We moved a bit closer as you see in the last picture for recording. We each had our own baggie with our gloves/markers/pencil/wipes. Our bells are old; two of us had a bell that needed to be in a precise position to ring, so we missed those a couple times when trying to ring softly as harmony but could bang them out when melody. We played something based on We Three Kings, so Steve will use the recording again in January. We're ALL ready to ring again sometime. The tall gal's husband would join us so we can have four, probably for Easter.

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Our 176-year-old church has a small choir loft. We don't have enough bell ringers to ring with any frequency, so can end up ringing a descant or accompaniment to a choral anthem or even alternating verses with a hymn. The choir has a couple of volunteers who can ring and sing at the same time, but not more than a couple. If we have very many ringers at a time, the bell tables squish the choir up under the sloped roof &/or onto the stairs! As you say, no one has been in the choir loft since mid-March, except for Steve who does record preludes each week.

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I love reading about this ringing and singing as I miss it soooo much!  I'm in the choir and my husband and I are both ringers, for about 27 years now.  But, like you folks, not since months ago.  Only one can ring four in hand and it isn't me, alas.  We are hoping to try again for Easter if weather permits.  Several choir folks were brave enough to sing outdoors even into the 30's to be recorded for the virtual services.  I wasn't one of them, too many negative factors. 

For sure missing the choir practices has been the hardest thing.  Choir is a 'family' all its own, at least at our church, now 152 years old.  This chat just warms me so much!  Hoping you all stay well and healthy!

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Hubby Steve is director of music, and his choir members were missing choir. He started doing Zoom Choir, preparing a theme each week (maybe Advent hymns or the history of some hymns or...) talking, playing through some things, then everyone else muting to sing along. The choir emailed him "topics" to cover. Steve has a free Zoom account with time limits and had enough "material" for 30 minutes, thinking that's all anyone would want to sit on Zoom, but his choir didn't want to stop until they were cut off at 40 minutes. Now he uses the church's paid Zoom account, because choir goes on for an hour or even longer. A former parishioner who moved away to CO joins the Zoom choir as does another who moved to the other end of CT and some who have work or family obligations that keep them out of "regular" choir/not available Thursday evenings at 7:30 normally. But, now they're not commuting home from NY or don't have to get a babysitter for kids or can even be preparing dinner or eating as they turn on Zoom. They love Zoom choir. And, Steve's been able to coax a few choir members into "leading" a hymn on Sunday/pre-recording it for him to insert into our Zoom church on Sundays.

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Great minds can think alike!  Our director also began Zoom choir about 3 months ago.  It was so rewarding seeing so many folks including one who had to go back to another state when the university closed for classes.  As she could teach online, she chose to be with her husband who teaches at a west coast school.  Depending on when the numbers decrease and the weather increases, I am hoping to rejoin the outdoor vocal group. 

I think he's planning for bells again about February or March in the large Social Hall which has separate ventilation and lots of space. The College Conservatory of Music at University of Cincinnati has been using the space for rehearsals so installed the HEPA filters and upgraded the space. They do all the extra cleaning even though only they, so far, are the only users.  But it is singing and even with masks a bit risky.    Oh, this can't be over soon enough!

On the other hand, having Bible study and prayer group online now has brought in many more folks who would not have otherwise participated due to driving distances and/or at night.  So a few pros, not 100% cons.

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I will join the chorus of those who miss the musical family at my church.  We did have a very small bell choir for Christmas that taped a few songs, and we occasionally have the praise band play outdoors if we do services int he parking lot.  But no chancel choir since last March.  I think that is just another reason that I dread tax season - band and choir practice were my stress relief during tax season. 

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Abby, if it was a contemporary type service, I can understand.  Some of us still appreciate 'old school' services and organ music and bells over praise bands.  Different types of worship appeal to different folks.  I could not get used to overhead screens with hymn words printed and no music, but that's me.  I've attended a couple of those type services with friends but find it hard to be contemplative and worshipful.  Main line Presbyterian here, still liking the 'traditional' service.  So grateful that there are options and not a mandated religion or church!

So we digress and will probably be chastised soon.  Back to taxes, right?

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Our daughter is in a professional choral group Concinnity that's part of Consonare. They were anxious to be singing again so explored signing in unconventional places (outdoors) masked and distanced. It started raining during one of their recordings, and they put up a poll to ask if they should edit out the rain noise; I think it was 100% for leaving in the sounds of nature. They have an outtakes roll with things like wind blowing over music stands and beeping car locks.

https://www.consonare-sing.org/

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