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We would have a Christmas party every year, usually at the Director’s residence. The first year we wrote a little skit among the graduates for the Christmas party, and that started a tradition which as far as I know continues, what, thirty-odd years: Student plays making fun of the faculty, in what we hoped was a gentle way.
We had these Christmas skits that had some national notoriety, in fact, because they were not very respectful. For instance, one was a Christmas Pageant—the Annunciation, the traveling to Bethlehem, the giving birth to the Savior and all that, except I played the Blessed Virgin. Different students portrayed different faculty members playing different characters, so I played the part of chairman, who was Laurel Wilkening. Then the Three Wise Men following the star, and I gave birth to the savior of planetary science, who we then crucified. That’s the kind of stuff that we did.
It was a long tradition in the graduate student population. When I was there, usually we had me writing things, and when Faith Vilas finally broke down into hysterical laughter, we’d say, “Okay, now we’re getting there.”
One of the other big things we did here is that every winter we had the Christmas party. The students would always do Christmas skits, and they’d do skits about the faculty. Then we started to videotape some of the skits.
The faculty looked forward to them; everybody looked forward to them. A lot of times we would have to write these things a day or two before the Christmas skits. We’d stay up all night trying to come up with something that would be funny. But somehow we always pulled it off. A lot of my memories go back to these Christmas skits and some of the things we did. Almost all the faculty members were a great sport. If we asked them to do something, they’d be a part of it. Sometimes it would be a great embarrassment to them as well, but they always went through with it.
I think that was another thing that helped bind everybody together: The faculty members, while being very good, did not take themselves too seriously. It made things more of a family feeling here.
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