John Shore Christian Blog and Commentary

Good King Winksalot Looks Out / At the Feet of Steven

The caroler who somehow always ends up right behind me

How come no one goes Christmas caroling anymore? When I was a kid, you could always count on a group of strolling singers coming by your house and joyfully belting out a familiar Christmas tune that always made you feel so good inside right before you turned up the volume on your TV.

Ah, carolers. They used to be such a big part of Christmas. My family used to get so many different groups of carolers outside our house, that by December 22 or so, we we were capable of eating our entire dinner in the dark after we snapped off the lights. And the whole time we were waiting for the carolers to give up serenading an empty house, we would remain completely silent, even if one of us happened to got stuck with a fork or jabbed in the eye with a straw.

I used to hope the carolers in our neighborhood would break out into territorial turf wars, but they never did. I remember once looking down our street in one direction, and seeing a gang of carolers coming our way, and then looking in the other direction, and seeing the same thing, and thinking, "Oh, it's on. This is it. They're have to meet! It's gonna get ugly!" I imagined hot chocolate spraying everywhere, scarves and mittens sailing through the air. Cops showing up. Me getting interviewed on TV.

"Yeah," I'd say. "I saw the whole thing. I was just standing right here on my lawn with my bucket of baseball bats, when all [bleep] broke loose. Can I say [bleep?] on TV?"

But, alas, nothing: One of the groups meekly meandered to the other side of the street just in time to avoid getting their hollies decked. And that was my cue to duck back inside my house, warn my family, and turn off the lights.

But where are the carolers nowadays? What happened to that tradition? These days I couldn't get a caroler outside my house if I put a tin of cookies on the sidewalk, shined a spotlight on it, threw open our windows, and blared karaoke versions of carols from my stereo. Forget it. Someone would just call the police. And I'd be stuck trying to explain how people used to carol. But the cops would all be too young to remember. And, because of the special way I have of interacting with the police, I'd end up getting tazed. So it just wouldn't be worth it.

But whatever did happen to caroling? Why doesn't anyone do it anymore? I myself used to love the idea of going Christmas caroling. The reality of going Christmas caroling never quite jingled my bells, but that's only because I'm not exactly what you'd call a natural-born caroler. I would be, except it involves  singing in public. Me singing in public is like Santa singing in my shower. It's just wrong. Plus, I can never, ever remember the words to any carols. So I'm always stuck singing, like, "Good King Winksalot looked out / At the feet of Stephen / Then the snow was all about / Deeply, crispy Steven." And then I start noticing my fellow carolers giving me the evil eye. Like they know all the lyrics. That's when I usually start silently mouthing the lyrics, the better to hear them failing. But glaring at your fellow carolers while pretending to sing is fun for only four or five songs, max. Then it's back to guessing how much gusto you're supposed to use rolling your "r's" in "Little Drummer Boy."

Plus, I always ended up standing right in front of that person who's in every caroling group, the one who mistook "Let's go out caroling!" with "Let's go audition for the Metropolitan Opera!" You know those people? Who sing like what they're really doing is drumming up customers for the little hearing aid business they run on the side?

Or I'd end up standing right in front of a carol yeller. Or, out of desperate boredom, I'd become a yeller. But the point is, I sure do miss that great tradition of gathering together with a bunch of people you don't really know all that well, and then going outside with them into the freezing dark to wander around the streets singing songs in the hopes that eventually someone will feed you.

I don't know. It just doesn't seem like people have the same spirit of Christmas they used to.


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