Wow. I went out with some Ninja carolers last night. We deserve simultaneous degrees in early music, performance art and group psychology or at least some CEU’s. It took me about 4 hours to get to sleep afterwards so I’m going to use this quiet Christmas Eve to debrief.
First off a big thanks to my friends who showed up to sing. There are lots of pleasant things to do this season, wrap presents, stand in line, argue with your families, and somehow caroling was your first choice. Bravo! There were 10-11 of us if I count the guy we picked up on the streets in a deal that we go sing to his housebound friend. People were dressed for Alaska weather though I fear some were dressed for driving in their heated cars in Alaska. As usual, I took on the bossy yet I don’t really care to be the boss role which is my default when herding butterflies or snowflakes. I asked each person to pick a song to sing for practice, one that they really wish we could sing even if others didn’t really know it. This resulted in some fairly esoteric choices, a song about Weavers, Lulle, Lulla ( or something like that which I vaguely remembered and a couple of other songs that we all sang different words to without somehow firing missiles at each other (not missals.) This resulted in a reality check so that by the time we got to Jingle Bells it was so easy that nobody could complain.
I had a whole bunch of shakers, bells and tambourines that I hoped would encourage people to sing louder. Unfortunately, I remembered later that the reason people sing quietly is because they are shy and you can’t change shyness by making more noise. Being a loud person with a middling voice, I am dumbfounded that people with beautiful voices don’t flaunt them but then I’m the one with a pink fake cheetah hat. I was never at the back of the caroling pack. Maybe next time. More likely only when I’m so old that I can’t make it up the steps before everyone else. Did I mention that once some ladies at a church where I sang came up to me in the choir and asked me to sing quieter so they could hear the others?
We sang for people in about a dozen houses and for barking dogs and silent furniture in a few where the houses may or may not have been empty. I suppose a more organized group would evaluate the car in the driveway situation but we were very involved in choosing our next songs, me dropping songbooks in the middle of the road and avoiding sliding out from under ourselves on the icy spots. We were a Monty Python band of minstrels. Luckily we had some children with us who can remember our antics and repeat them in future generations.
We didn’t get offered any alcohol which we definitely didn’t need in that our natural ebullience was nearly overwhelming. We did get some amazing Christmas cookies which were double layered and painted with holly leaves done with a new fangled food coloring pen. The berries were red hots and there was jam between the layers! One neighbor challenged us to sing a medieval song which (SCORE!) two of our folks knew. She invited us in and played it on her medieval instrument. We sang Silent Night to a little baby. A man who had a lit cross in his yard and a beard like a prophet thanked us for spreading the word of God while his teenagers hid under pillows on the couch. We interrupted one gal studying for The Bar Exam but she acted like we were doing her a favor. Lots of people said they had never had carolers before.
I would like to make caroling a tradition. It epitomizes the extroverted, over sharing person I recognize as my inner child. I am like a trumpet playing reveille at noon because it was so much fun in the morning. (There is someone in my neighborhood who has an alarm clock which plays reveille that I can hear when they leave their windows open.) My neighborhood is flat and only one couple looked like they might have had a weapon behind their back because they were expecting the police. That doesn’t mean it has to be my neighborhood next year. It could be yours! Sign me up already.