Let’s get one thing straight - I am not a Gleek. I have seen a grand total of 3/4 of an episode of Glee, and that was plenty. But I am a singer, and I love me some opera. And choral music. And Christmas caroling. In my opinion, Christmas doesn’t exist until I see a performance of Handel’s Messiah and go sing in public with my Dr. Seuss Santa hat on.
I took care of Handel’s Messiah a couple of weeks ago, and it turned out to be the best performance of it that I’d ever seen. Christmas mission half accomplished...
Then there’s the business of caroling. I decided a caroling party of my own was in order. Handel’s Messiah requires actual musicians. Caroling does not. So I invited a slew of singers and non-singers to come over, roam around my block, and serenade my neighbors.
The only rule? Bring a flask. I mean, it’s cold out there. Why not warm ourselves from the inside out?
After pre-warming with beer and mulled wine, we set off to sing our way around the block. We first went to visit my upstairs neighbor to get our musical bearings. She and her friend came to the door, and we launched in a a train-wreck version of “Angels We Have Heard on High”. We started on different notes. We were horribly off-key. We probably weren’t even singing the words together. My neighbor and her friend howled with laughter. We finished, I took a sip of bourbon from my flask, we laughed at ourselves, and moved on to the next house.
We targeted a house across the street because they had lights on and were hopefully at home. A woman answered the door with her daughter that looked to be about 3 years old. We launched into Frosty the Snowman, slightly more together this time. The little girl shyly tucked her head into her mother’s shoulder, not sure what to make of these hooligans on her front stoop. But by the end she had a smile on her face and even managed a barely audible “thank you” at the prompting of her mother, who loved the fact that we were trying not to murder classic Christmas music for their pleasure.
At the house next door, half a family came to the door and beamed as we flailed our way through “Deck the Halls”. Around the corner, a young woman and her dog both thought our stab at “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” was the best thing since sliced bread. Two doors down, a mother answered the door with her young son, and he promptly took off running to the back of the house when he saw the group of Santa hat-clad strangers in his yard. We broke into “Frosty the Snowman” again, hoping it would lure him back, but neither our squawks nor his mother’s pleas brought him out of hiding. It did, however, lure out the next door neighbor, who stood in the doorway with a huge grin as we finished the song. We actually got applause that time. I took a victory sip of bourbon.
And then we hit a tipping point. At the next house, we were told by a man that their child had just gone to bed. A man at the house after that told us the same thing, and he looked about as happy to see us as the little boy that ran off in terror. We decided to call it a night. Besides, I was nearly out of bourbon.
For the first time in my life, I’m not spending Christmas in Alabama. I’m not traveling anywhere, in fact. But I considered this caroling outing as a bit of a trip. I ventured out and did something I’ve never done before, met a few new people, and had a wonderful night with a great group. Traveling around the world is awesome, but traveling around the block has its merits, too.