I love Christmas.
I love the decorations – the colour and sparkle in my house makes me feel happy.
I love the Christmas trees (I love decorating mine – and this year, my boys really helped, listening when I explained that the tree needed to be balanced and therefore putting all the same things in the one place isn’t the way to do it – yes, I am a little anal! 🙂 )
I love Christmas lights – not that we do any ourselves, but I really admire those who do and we always go looking for the lights display when we’re out and about with the boys, stopping to appreciate the Christmas cheer efforts of others. I enjoy the Christmas shopping – thinking of what my family and friends might like, ticking off my list, getting it done well in time – usually I have most of it done before the end of November – I did say I was a bit anal.
I love receiving cards and writing them – I got cute puppy and cat ones this year (the cats look a bit pissed off about having Santa hats and reindeer antlers on their heads – very funny when the caption is ‘Joy to the world’. LOL moment when I found those.)
I love the Christmas food. I bake cakes and rum balls that I decorate to look like little Christmas puddings to give to family and close friends. I love how excited the kids get. I love the suspension of disbelief and the imagination that keeps Santa and his magical reindeers alive for so many little tykes year after year. My husband and I have a routine on Christmas Eve. We deliver the cakes I’m making to our friends, then go to a friend’s Christmas Eve drinks with the kids and then after they’re all tucked up in bed, we sit and watch Carols by Candlelight and wrap the kids gifts and put them under the tree. My tree will continue to look a bit bare to me until Christmas Eve when those presents in their bright and cute paper gets put under it. My husband then goes off to wrap up my birthday presents (because yes, my birthday is on Christmas day – a difficult thing when I was a child, but my parents were so fantastic about it all and made certain my birthday never got subsumed by Christmas day.)
However, each year that goes by, I feel like there are things missing – there are less cards being sent and received, less cheer from many people. But the thing I miss the most are the carols.
Ever since school I have been part of some kind of caroling group. Our madrigal group would have some gigs singing at hospitals and old folks’ homes and it was always such a lovely thing to do. Then, when I was older, I was part of a professional group called The Christmas Belles. We would go out in groups of 4 (1 soprano – me, 2 metzo sopranos and 1 alto) and sing archapella for anywhere between 2-4 hours at shopping centres and old folks’ homes. The shopping centres were often really hard work, but it was so rewarding when people would stop to listen and sing along, smiles growing on their faces. The old folks’ homes were always rewarding – such appreciative audiences who give so much back. A few years ago that group dissolved because the wonderful lady who had run it for so many years became very sick and couldn’t do it anymore. But I was in a choir then and we did a few gigs at old folks’ homes too, so I still got to sing my carols and glory in those wonderful descant parts.
But in the last few years, because of a need to work more for my family, I had to give up my choir too and now I just don’t get to sing those carols with any regularity. And I miss it. Singing those carols always really made it feel like Christmas was coming. And not just because the singing filled me with joy, but because I could see that joy extend to the faces of those who were listening too. People who were sick, people who were preoccupied and busy trying to juggle too much, stopping to listen and stay for a few minutes, maybe even requesting a favourite carol – it was truly something special. I’ve noticed that despite the Christmas decorations, the shopping centres don’t tend to play the carols like they used to – and I miss it, even though I might understand the reason.
My favourite carols to sing were the ones with the big, soaring descants – ‘Oh Come All Ye Faithful’ ,’Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ and ‘Oh Holy Night’ – ones like that. What about you? What are your favourite Christmas Carols?