Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12-14-11 Christmas Song(s) of the Day #14: O Tannenbaum

I cannot hear the German lyrics of O Tannenbaum without remembering Marilyn.

Marilyn was my office mate for a number of semesters. We had such a blast. I can still her cackling laugh and that gleeful smile. The energy between us was palpable. We learned we couldn't be in the copy center on the machines at the same time. Every single time, one of the machines would go on the fritz as soon as we stood next to each other to chat. It never happened when we went in alone. Finally, she won a coveted full-time teaching spot. That winter, 1999, I'd volunteered to put together the department Christmas party and Marilyn was helping me. She made this amazing queso with spicy sausage. I still make it. I was playing Christmas CDs as we were setting up. And Nat King Cole's version of O Tannenbaum came one. I can still see Marilyn rolling her eyes and laughing at his pronunciation. (She'd grown up in Germany.)  And then her cancer came roaring back. Within a semester she was battling it full-time instead of working. The next semester, the spot that I was hired to fill full-time was hers. She was so happy for me. It was so bittersweet after 7 years of trying. I traveled to Austin the following spring where she was living and we spent a wonderful weekend laughing, crying, watching movies, and going to a conference on Shakespeare at Southwestern. And then she was gone, only 36 years old.

She sneaks up on me in a million different ways.

And she's always in O Tannenbaum now, whether it's being sung well or not. But mostly, I prefer the no singing, just to appease Marilyn.


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