Pam Todd ’78: Christmas in Gao | Highlander Devotional

December 20, 2019

My freshman and sophomore years at Houghton, I lived in Gaoyadeo (Gao) dorm. It was the oldest dorm on campus, and the smallest. It was quaint, even though the basement could be downright creepy when you were doing laundry. But there was a special bond between all of the girls who lived in that dorm.

Christmas in Gao

Christmas has always been my favorite time of year and living in Gao made it even more special. You see, Gao had a tradition for our Christmas party. If you happened to be outside the dorm looking in on the night of the party, you could see a winding line of candles through the staircase windows on the ends of the dorm, descending down into the basement. From the outside, it was beautiful, but from the inside, it was even better!

Carols by Candlelight

The RAs of the dorm would start on the third floor with their candles lit and they would stop at each doorway to “pick up” the girls. We would sing Christmas carols as we wound our way down the hallways, descending into the basement where we would gather in the old dining hall for our gift exchange. It was the one night when almost the entire dorm actually sat down together and enjoyed the warmth of the season and a break from studying for finals.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

I had grown up singing Christmas carols and was sure that I knew most, if not all, of the “good” carols. But on that first party night, I was introduced to a carol that has remained one of my favorites ever since. That carol was “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Through the years, I have taught that carol to students from elementary through high school, have directed choirs singing it, directed bands playing it, and have played it as a piano solo myself.

Each year, since that Christmas in 1974, the memories of all those girls’ voices, echoing down the halls of that old dorm come flooding back to me, returning me to those special Christmas celebrations on the Houghton campus.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You for the precious gift You sent to us so many years ago, and for the great sacrifice He made so I can look forward to living with You one day.

This entry was originally published in Creekstones,a digital devotional written and compiled by Houghton University alumni in 2010. Pam (Campbell ’78) Todd was a homemaker and taught private music lessons in Tucson, Arizona. She passed away in 2012.

Highlander Devotionals are contributed by members of the broader Houghton community, including our worldwide alumni family. These reflections are a testament to the continued, transforming work of Jesus Christ in the lives of alumni and others who have called Houghton “home.”