If there’s one thing we all universally share about Christmas, it’s our memories. And for many of us, that’s exactly where Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy lives on now. I feel, as many of you likely do, fortunate to have that special place as a backdrop for some of those memories, and if I put my mind to it -- to borrow a little from Dickens -- I am “conscious of a thousand odours floating in the air, each one connected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes, and joys, and cares long, long, forgotten!”
We were lucky to have a few Mount alumnae and friends share their favorite Christmastime memories of life at Mount de Chantal with us. Here’s a few for your reminiscing pleasure…
“I have several favorite Christmas memories at the Mount. The first was being asked to sing the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’. I believe it was 2002 and 2003 that the dads and some faculty were asked to sing the guys’ parts with the Chamber Singers. The sound under the dome was amazing. The other was when our ad agency taped the Chambers Singers singing a Christmas carol in the chapel for the Wheeling Hospital Christmas commercial. What a treat!” - Milt Gutman
“My favorite Mount Christmas memory is midnight Mass and Sr. Jane de Chantal singing ‘Oh, Holy Night’. I think that memory was from the time when I was a Nun, otherwise I would have been home for Christmas. She had a beautiful voice and could always hit the high notes and make them sound melodious. When I think of Christmas, that's the memory that always comes to mind!” - Anne Taylor
“The freshman class was always responsible for planning the Christmas party with the advent pal reveal... always a favorite for me. My freshman year we used, "The Night Before Christmas" as our play including a reindeer conga line.” – Dawn Mattingly
The Wheeling Feeling Owner and Designer Vanessa said her favorite memories of Christmas at the Mount involved all the little moments leading up to Christmas break.
“The Advent table in the hall was always fun to see with notes left and Christmas treats, sneaking out to put it on the table so no one would see you,” she said. “I loved the Christmas party at Wheeling Park then ice skating. Then there you would find out who your advent friend was. One year it was at the Mount and we had this massive potluck. All the gifts would be put on the table and designated Santa would hand them out. One year I got a Sailor Moon wand.”
As for me, the memory that sticks out most clearly was the year our class spelled out Christmas during the Lower School Christmas Pageant. Each child held up a letter in the word “Christmas” and each letter corresponded to a country that began with that letter and we would tell a little story of how each country celebrated the holiday. I was “A” for Austria, and I got to lead the class in singing ‘Edelweiss’. I can still picture looking out into the Music Hall, seeing the parents faces lit up by the small lights around the room, and feeling super nervous and excited at the same time. Isn’t that how Christmas always feels as a child?
Wherever you spend this Christmas, we hope and pray you are safe and well. Here’s to all of our memories and a prosperous 2021!
Thanks as always to our Facebook community for contributing their thoughts for this blog and to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston’s Mount de Chantal Archive for the photos. (Except for that one of Cassie – that’s from her mom). If you enjoyed this blog, why not buy us a cup of coffee to keep it going?