The Christmas of 1977 was one of those years that Christmas Day happened to fall on a Sunday.
I was in my first year at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. In order to earn additional money for tuition I accepted the position as church organist in September at a large church in Lexington, KY, and when I was hired, it was agreed that I would play throughout the Christmas season. That meant I would not be home for Christmas in Baltimore that year.
I had begun dating a young man from Texas named Michael Johnson, but when the fall semester final exams were over he went home and I stayed in Kentucky to fulfill my obligations to the church. When the dorms closed I ended up staying at an apartment that a fellow seminarian had rented. He went home for Christmas but was thrilled to let me use his apartment so that I could take care of his Siamese cat named Butch. Butch was a strange cat. He insisted on sleeping with his head on the pillow with me every night, and he even snored in my ear, which made the whole lonely Christmas scene yet a little more bizarre.
I was determined to be brave about being alone for Christmas in a strange town, with a strange cat, being employed by church people that I barely knew. As each student finished exams and left for home, my bravery began to slip away into full-blown home-sickness. After all, aren’t we all supposed to be home for Christmas? Wasn’t there some song about it that Bing Crosby sang during World War II?