Hey guys! Last night was absolutely massively draining and it was for one reason: Carolling. My college is small and tight knit due to the small class sizes accepted each year which means our profs get to know us a little better and are expected, to some degree, to be willing to invest a bit more in us. One of the ways they do this is through a tradition of Christmas Carolling.
Here’s how it works, every year each class chooses three professors who are willing to host them at their houses and busses from one house to the other to eat their food, trample the snow around their houses, and just generally cause a lot of fuss and most likely leave a mild mess everywhere they go. While this event is by no means mandatory and other classes have a lower turnout, my class has embraced this tradition whole heartedly and fills a full sized school bus to the brim with three to some seats and many standing in the aisles. We even invite additional professors and lab personelle to join us on the adventure (this year we had three join our ranks).
Before carolling classes generally do a gift exchange, which generally ends up being pretty boozey, and take a big class photo (in which I decline to participate). Students often bring a dog or two to this part, and everyone has a chat.
This year we spent the evening at our Anaesthesiology professor’s, Neurology professor’s, and General Pathology professor’s homes drinking mulled wine, cider, and hot chocolate (with peppermint schnapps or Baileys); eating mince-meat pies (courtesy of our professor with English heritage), cheese and crackers, sweet treats, Christmas oranges and anything else that was sitting out anywhere! Hopefully they hid the things we weren’t supposed to eat.
One professors little black lab was utterly overwhelmed by us but was utterly charming (as was her cat, whose name was Pumpkin I think), while our other professors ten month old English bulldog and middle aged flat coated retriever soaked up the attention like the stars of the show that they are!
We progressed from a three story classically built house, where high ceilings were standard, with a dining room, sitting room, reading room etc.; to an old modern house with a swing hanging from the exposed rafters and a brick fireplace standing centrally in the living room which was open concept to the dining area and kitchen, where the line of the roof was evident in the ceiling; and finally to an older house, the traditional single story bungalow with hallways between smaller rooms which where warm and homey, and which featured a myriad of artwork (my favourite being the two oil paintings, hung together which depicted a flying saucer, teacup, and spoon with only clouds in the backdrop) but left you in danger of getting stuck in a corner (luckily food was laid out in most corners so stuck people wouldn’t starve).
We sung a few songs at each house, and were informed by one professor that we were apparently the only class she had encountered which actually adhered to the obligation to sing implied by the word carolling. This utterly shocked all of us! We honestly just assumed that because it was called carolling… It won’t be changing for us anyways I suspect, although the song at the last house was much worse than at the first as a good portion of the class was slightly more inebriated than they were when they started.
I was utterly worn out, socially, by the time we finished at the second house but the third house is where the event got particularly interesting for me. I kept to myself at the first couple of houses, visiting with my English professor’s soft spoken husband and a friend from class who I speak with frequently. At the second house I was again drawn into conversation with a single classmate and then a couple of professors and more of my normal crowd. To properly explain the events at the third house will require me to explain an earlier incident however.
Last year, during an event referred to as Drink a Small Town Dry, I received a phone call as I wandered towards bed in my PJ’s (my favourite cow shorts in fact). While the voices at the other end were moderately unintelligible I eventually found myself changing back into street clothes and crawling into my messy car to give three classmates, who had missed their bus to the bar outside of town, a ride. I pulled up to the front of the college and texted to say I was there which resulted in three men barreling out the doors and sprinting up the ramp to my car as they shotgunned beers, the tallest and gangliest of whom was body checked into the side of my car. The rule of don’t throw up in my car and no criticizing its messiness or my driving was established and we rolled out.
One of the guys happened to be musical and the others (musical guy also included) happened to be drunk which resulted in being serenaded with country songs and random raps as I drove out of town. Eventually I mentioned I only knew one rap start to finish. Well this of course resulted in me rapping, and loosing my place because they tried to beat box, oh, and making a wrong turn because they weren’t being very good navigators.
Anyways, apparently this left quite an impression because at the beginning of the night last night, on the bus, on of the other guys turned to me and said, “So ___________ told me that you rapped for him once.” To which I said, “Umm, yeah that’s true.” Which resulted in the inevitable question, will you do it again? Or do you need a few drinks first? And an offer to supply said drinks. I ran of a couple of verses of rap before someone made me laugh and I told him I had lost the words thanks to that.
Fast forward, we’re at the third house. I’m sitting around, the guys are peer-pressuring one of our profs to shotgun a beer and he lays down a sick burn in response. A few minutes later all I hear is one of the guys saying my name and insisting I can rap and I needed to do it right now and were was I. It was pointed out that I was a couple of feet away and I eventually tell them hush, I’ll come over. Standing in the group they ask if I’ll rap and glancing over at my professor I sheepishly agree. The response to which is three of the guys beginning to beatbox. Now, I cannot, to save my life rap to someone else’s beat and I try to stop them saying it’s not the right beat and that I can’t do it if they keep going.
One of the guys insists he can do other beats and starts running off all sorts of different rhythms. Finally I hush them up and take a breath to stop laughing and start.
How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scottsman,
Dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean,
By providence impoverished in squalor…
I got to–By fourteen they put him in charge of a trading charter–before the beatboxing resumed and I absolutely lost it. Then the guys insisted I keep going and I told them they couldn’t beat box if they wanted me to finish, my prof reminds me of the time I said I couldn’t sing and I insist that wasn’t singing. Finally the beatboxing subsides and the all try to get me to start again. I start and another of my professors roams past looks and me and goes,” Hamilton!” I nearly keel over, I’ve literally never met someone else who knows the musical (yeah, I know it took the USA and the general Broadway crowd by storm but it didn’t get to my neck of the woods).
Which is the story of how my General Pathology prof and I ended up having a long conversation about Hamilton and how he had been to see it, just after Lin stopped playing Hamilton, and how the guy who was playing the King when he saw it was better than the original, and how great the music was and how insanely well done the songs were and how a relative of his had seen the show twice when Lin was still in it!
Honestly, it was just the best conversation ever mainly because it is so rare, when you spend all day surrounded by students and professors who study or studied the same subject as you, that you talk about anything other than that subject. While I can’t say I ever finished the rap I did at least prove I’m not the least hip person ever and I also learned drunks have surprisingly good memories (so don’t say or do anything too interesting or it’ll come back to bite you)!
And so ended another year of carolling. I have had a relaxing and lovely morning decompressing from last nights social whirlwind, complete with French Toast (made with rye bread) and canned peaches. So for your next Saturday morning brunch here’s my recipe:
(This will make about four slices, and yes I know it is easy as pie but you can’t knock tips right?)
3-4 Tbsp of Milk (I eyeball this so this is a best guess measurement)
a splash of Vanilla (I love vanilla so I put in lots but try a tsp. to start)
4 Slices of Bread (I’ve been loving rye bread lately!)
Warm up a frying pan with just a little bit of oil in it (think a Tbsp.) on medium or medium high heat. Whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla in a container large enough to fit a slice of bread in it (so the bread is flat). Dip both sides of a slice of bread into the container, allowing it to soak a few seconds on either side and then place it in the hot pan and repeat! Let cook on either side until golden brown throughout and then serve–these are great with fruit, syrup, or–my favourite–cinnamon sugar.
Alternatively you can make them into a grilled cheese, to do this put sliced aged cheddar cheese (if you must go with mild go ahead, but not pre-sliced because, bleh!) onto a slice AFTER you have done the first flip and flip another slice onto the top. Cook until the bottom of the bottom slice is brown and flip so the top browns too (and the cheese has plenty of time to melt). This is also pretty amazing if you throw some marmalade in before you put the cheese on! Weird I know.
Again, I know this is super easy and you probably already make this but still its such a yummy, fast breakfast, I just have to remind you about it!
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or Great Whatever-You’re-Celebrating-This-Season! Be generous and show love.