I soldered. I knitted. I bought things to put into stockings. My boys came along on the errands and so I also bought winter jackets and negotiated credit for used video games (in case you’ve ever thought of doing that, they give you about 10% of the initial purchase price).

And then it was time to sing madrigals on the square.

I don’t know whether you’ve ever worn madrigal-singing costumes. They aren’t just for singing. People wear them at Renaissance Faires and Society for Creative Anachronism dos. An entomologist of my acquaintance said that they were so much more becoming than modern clothing, he didn’t know why women couldn’t just wear them all the time. Since I was in sweeping bottle-green velvet at that moment, rather than my usual jeans and sweaters, I could hardly disagree.

But I have only worn them for singing madrigals. And I think that they really are imperVENETIAN_BRIDE fect for that purpose. The preferred silhouette in these dresses is the one shown here in Tiziano’s “Venetian Bride.” The torso is supposed to be an entirely flat rigid shape.

When you sing, you of course expand the ribcage to get plenty of breath so you can get through all the “Fa la la la”s without having to break off and breathe again.You can see the contradiction here.

The situation was complicated last night by the fact that we were out in the cold. It is harder to breathe in the cold.

So there you are, trussed up like a chicken to get the flat front plus cleavage effect, and breathing in 35 degree air, and the whole question of breath control becomes morelotus complex.

This is the catalog picture of my dress, by the way. That is definitely not me wearing it, and mine was red, but you get the idea.

We had fun.

The little lady who gave the bitter speech a couple of weeks ago put a turtleneck sweater under her dress, and one of the sopranos wore ear muffs. The other alto and I had down jackets, which we wore as we walked along and then cast onto the ground before singing. There was a lot of talk about how we would all make woolen capes before we did it again.

Oddly enough, we did not have the krum horns. The director brought a couple to rehearsal last week. They look like umbrella handles and sound rather like a kazoo. Or, as one of the sopranos put it, “I could bring my cat and we could step on her.” Perhaps the director was disheartened by our reactions, including the silent bafflement when he attempted to give us the pitch with the krumhorn.

But they would have been perfect for singing outside amid the cotton candy sellers, dogs, and children waiting for Santa Claus to roar up on a fire engine.

I was reminded of a year when we went to the lighting at a nearby town where Santa arrives by horse-drawn carriage. He was dressed in robes like Father Christmas, and he walked past me where I stood with my two little girls, holding baby #1 son, and stopped to touch the baby’s face. It was a magical moment.

Santa on a fire truck, with no little children in tow, before Thanksgiving has even arrived, is not magical to me, so I did not stay for it. Instead, I trooped off with the rest of the singers to the church where we had done all our lacing up, collected my car, and was home in time for dinner.