December can be a dreary time of the year. The grey skies over Vancouver and the Lower Mainland of BC and the constant cool and damp weather are obviously not conducive to playing bagpipes outside. So, with Christmas approaching, our bands are gearing down for the mid-year break from practice and looking forward to a bit of relaxation with fellow band members and getting together with family over the holiday season. One of my most memorable bagpiping events, however, did occur during the Christmas season. It was a winter wedding many years ago in the beautiful St. Ninian’s Cathedral (Tigh Dhe) in Antigonish, Nova Scotia followed by a wedding reception in a equally beautiful and cozy 150+ year old home in the fishing community of Arisaig, Nova Scotia. I was the best man at the wedding. My younger sister the bride.
There is nothing like youth to bring out the fun and joy in a wedding that brought together two old Nova Scotia Highland immigrant families. The music, including of course, the bagpipes, the piano, the masterful playing of pipe organist James (Seamus Mor) MacPherson and the fiddle all added to the excitement of this union. The Cathedral was beautifully decorated for Christmas with spruce boughs, ribbons and candles. Everyone from both families wore their tartans and we celebrated with great home cooked food and drinks well into the night, after rolling up the living room rug and heaving it out onto the deck. It was a spectacular night to begin a new life together.
Today, the couple have five children and they are a rock in the firmament of their community and parish. Music still ebbs and flows through their home and it is always a welcoming home to visit with my bagpipes during visits to ‘the old country’.
I’ll be thinking of all of this, along with my siblings down East, as Christmas 2010 comes and goes. As as a parting gift, here’s a reminder of what’s now only five months away.