I would like you to picture a scene. Picture an email being circulated around a neighbourhood in July, suggesting that everyone gets together to sing a few hymns and other songs in the local pub, to celebrate the season. Picture 200 people turning out and sitting in the back room of the local pub and joining in. Picture those people all spontaneously knowing all the words to all the songs and all the tunes and singing with abandon. Picture those people whooping and clapping when someone sings a solo of one of the verses of their favourite hymn.
Totally inconceivable, no?
And yet, in December, if you call the hymns "carols", then it's a different story. An invite went around inviting us all to a carol sing-along and we all turned out.
What actually happened was a whistle-stop tour of the world's best loved carols - a quick fa la la la la la, and a bit of a ding dong, and a sneaky hark! within about 45 minutes. That, I can assure you, takes some doing. I. Was. Pooped.
Then the evening of "Christmas" songs went from the sublime ...
(Yes ... they are Abba-ettes. The only thing less Christmassy than Easter)
... to the ridiculous ...
(for those unused to student discos, those are the words to "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor).
It's all quite bizarre. The youngest in the room were teenagers, and the oldest in their 70's. The solid rugby playing men saved up their voices for a resounding "FIVE GOLD RINGS" and the young girls gave a dainty "sire, he lives a good league hence". The young 'uns looked obligingly blank when we sang it "My Way" and the oldies looked slightly embarrassed when we sang, with gusto, that there was a place for us (somehow, someway, somewhere). But everyone, to a man sat, and bellowed out the songs for the benefit only of everyone else in the room and their own personal enjoyment. I even sang an Abba song. And THAT takes some doing. The carols and the Christmas songs took up maybe a half of the evening, before the old classics took over. But somewhere in the midst of it all was the Spirit of Christmas. Alive and well in a slightly odd suburb of south London.
Hope your festivities are giving you at least some of the warm glow that I'm currently feeling.