Last week six old friends sacrificed their Poker night. Instead, they went caroling at the homes of several friends. It was spontaneous and fun, for the singers and their audiences.
Hearing of their escapade made me reminisce about youthful caroling in Lancashire. For my siblings and me, caroling had little to do with the spirit of the season. It was our annual fundraiser. We depended on it.
Our neighbors, who had little to spare, were kind and most chipped in a few coppers. Our most lucrative stop was the local Pub. We arrived when customers were feeling mellow and magnanimous. Seeing pound notes hit the hat was magic.
For kids, we were savvy. We always included tear-jerkers and pulls on heartstrings. Our first carol was Here we come a Wassailing, raising our voices on the words ‘we are not daily beggars who go from door to door, but WE your neighbor’s children … more mumbling. Raised voices when we pretended to show we cared ‘bless the master of this house, bless the mistress too – and all the little children around the table ... God send a happy.
For those we knew were not ‘regulars’ at church we sang ‘Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat – will you please put a penny in the old man’s hat. If you haven’t got a penny a halfpenny will do. If you haven’t got a halfpenny, God bless you. If they hammered on the door, indicating we move along (usually they’d shout bugger off!) we had a not so jolly parting song for them. It did not ask God to bless them.
Spur of the moment caroling with poker players. Caroling with brothers and sisters, laughing all the way home, and dividing the loot. Smelling the Christmas pudding steaming in its wrappings. Wearing the silly Christmas cracker hats. Memories are made from these moments.
Some of our caroling was during WWII. The blackout made it more exciting. One time we got to sing in a public air raid shelter. During those years our final carol was ‘JOY TO THE WORLD.’ We needed reminding – Joy will return. And it did.
So have yourself a merry little, spontaneous, serendipitous, silly, and memory building Christmas.
Joy to the world.
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