I do enjoy carol singing and last night was perfect for it - thick snow on the ground that was still white after two days lying on city streets. On the street I moved from earlier in the year there is a tradition of singing a few verses at each door and collecting for charity. Everyone who opens their door is treated to a verse of 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas' at the end. It takes perhaps an hour to visit all the houses and then we retire to one of them for mince pies and mulled wine to warm the extremities. One thing I love about singing carols is the sense of a shared culture. The older folk knew the words to at least the first verse of most of them and the value of all those turgid school assemblies and enforced church attendance becomes clear.
The other evening as I was about to leave the house I heard a knock at the door. I opened it to a boy of about ten or twelve. He sang:
"We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year"
and then stopped. It was all he knew.
It felt more like trick-or-treat than caroling but I didn't want to discourage him from singing and appreciated his courage.
'I'm going away for Christmas,' he said.
'Good for you,' I replied.
I gave him 50 pence (I didn't want to give him too much incentive to return!) and then noticed his friend overlapping him as they worked their way down the street. Very time-efficient; these boys will go far!
I thought of putting a notice on the door along the lines of "No Carol Singers UNLESS you know the first verse of at least TWO carols by heart". But of course I didn't. And tonight the folk on my new street are going caroling. The snow looks like sticking around so bring it on.