Songs of Good (WIN THE ESSAY CONTEST!) Cheer

Let's just quote my colleague Mary Schmich: "Because no friendly singalong would feel right without an edge, every year we offer a contest. This allows audience members to do the only thing that's more fun in life than singing, i.e. competing."

Eric Zorn sent me an email this morning with the good news that the deadline to enter the competition for two free tickets had been extended to Sunday, Dec. 4th.

What must one do to win the holidays?

Mary: Write a brief tale (250 words or so) of a memorable moment you've had that involves a holiday song. The song might be a traditional Christmas carol or it might be something as dreadful as "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." The quality of the song doesn't matter. All we want is your memory of it. Tell us what happened. What song. Why you remember. It may be funny, it may be sad. Be specific.

Send entries to Eric Zorn or to Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, 60611.

Mary says she'd write about singing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" outdoors on a cold December night during her freshman year of college.

Eric says he'd write about the first year he and Mary did Songs of Good Cheer and the thrilling rush of sound when the 450 people in the room broke into our first number, "Angels We Have Heard on High."

I'd write about caroling with my musician friends in high school -- it was so simple, so easy, and so lovely. Everything that, as an adult, I wish holidays could still be. I went to "Songs of Good Cheer" last year, and it was like that night.

Winners — one each night — get two free tickets and a chance to come onstage to read their piece and be wildly cheered.

When: Friday, Dec. 16, and Saturday, Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18, at 7 p.m.

Where: Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago.

Tickets: Available from the Old Town School online or through the box office (773-728-6000). $45 for the general public. $40 for school members. $35 for children and seniors. The money helps support the Chicago Tribune Holiday Giving Campaign, a campaign of Chicago Tribune Charities, a McCormick Foundation Fund.

Here's Mary's official column invitation. (But you have until Dec. 4th to get your entries in. Eric says so.) And here is the Songs of Good Cheer Facebook page. And here's the Trib Nation post from last year.

-- James Janega

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