A Christmas Carol

Those of you who know me know I love to sing at Christmas, but not everyone knows why. As a kid I could relate well to the Little Drummer Boy. Our neighborhood had a tradition of giving each other gifts as Christmas approached. And I remember several years where some unknown neighbors sent all sorts of goodies – oranges, turkey, clothes, and even toys for the youngest children. Being large family on an educators income, we didn’t have much to give back. But we could sing together, so sing we did, to as many neighbors as we could reach every year. Whether we were really that good or not is questionable; it seems we were always goofing up one song or another, and my mom was infamous for starting out songs on the wrong note. Her beautiful voice more than made up for any mistakes, but a crowd of snickering kids couldn’t have helped. Still, the neighbors always graciously accepted our gift and would say things like, “You sound just like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir!” or “Are you sure you’re not the von Trapp family?” And some older neighbors apparently so loved our tradition that their families would call us years later saying they’d requested, if possible, that the Harper Family sing at their funeral.

Admittedly, it wasn’t always fun trudging through snow for what seemed like hours on end. Sometimes we even wore bags on our feet to keep the snow out of worn shoes… which was more than a little embarrassing. (Between that and the strange but creative variation on rag curlers my mom came up with, “bread bags” was one of my many names at school. Good Times!) But we’d always thaw ourselves afterward over homemade hot cocoa and biscuits, and invariably our hearts were warmed as well by a few people who seemed to need the caroling that year.

Well, this year I’m the one who ‘needs’ to carol. Between stress and mild but annoyingly long-lasting under-the-weatherness (I couldn’t even call it illness so please pardon the invented term), I’ve had a hard time catching the Christmas Spirit. My husband doesn’t sing, but perhaps I can wrangle enough of my family together to do the real thing for a night or two, since I’m sure frozen toes MUST somehow inadvertently contribute to the bliss. Still I’m hoping my little experiment will be fun.

Below are links to two files. If you’re up to it, download the first and add your own voice using Audacity. Send the MP3 back to my gmail address if you would (which you can get by asking on my contact form, or by remembering an old moniker of mine at gmail.com) so I don’t eat up too much bandwidth on my little account here. I’ll mix whatever submissions I get (assuming you remember that I, while I do respect other points of view, will not promote bashing of my own – so please keep it clean and friendly.) Remember you don’t have to be pro or anywhere near it to enjoy a simple carol – and though I’ll post contributors names and a link if they want that, I won’t say who sang what part. So don’t be shy now 🙂 Have fun. Get your family or friends to sing along too. (I removed the first file, NO ONE tried it, and I don’t like singing solos ;-))

The second file is one of my favorite carols, and I’m singing it to you. Again it’s not pro and the voice leading and timing and breathing could have used a little help in parts — but that’s not the point. The point is that I want to share a carol I love with my friends. This song reminds me that angels sang to celebrate Christ’s birth. I wonder sometimes how many of us were in that choir. And I love to think that despite the craziness we as a society tend to bring upon ourselves in the Christmas season, that if we’ll just relax and remember what it’s about, as well as forgive those around us who seem to make the holidays difficult, that we’ll hear the angles singing still in our hearts.

Stars were Gleaming

Merry Christmas to all (except to those of you prefer Happy Holidays – and to you I heartily wish exactly that), and to all a good night! 🙂

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