Monday, December 17, 2007

Caroling poses its own set of problems


It's caroling season and, if you're a lousy singer or you have trouble remembering the words to your favorite Christmas songs, it's important to make up for these shortcomings by singing very loudly.

Face it: After a certain age, human beings are incapable of remembering whether it's 10 ladies dancing or eight or if Frosty's hat was made of felt or silk or if that incredibly annoying drummer kid's drum goes rah-pum-pa-pa-bum or something else altogether. In the end, all that matters when caroling is that you sing lustily, filled with the joy of the season and maybe a few pomegranate martinis, if you're the shy type.

The truth is, almost no one gets the lyrics to holiday songs right. It's OK when you're trying to fake "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," less so when you're supposed to be giving reverent attention to "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear."

Recently, I butchered that last one pretty badly. "It came upon a midnight clear, that glorious night of old, with angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold. Peace out! They said from their, er, holy homes." And it went downhill from there.

Ditto "Away in a Manger," which stumps me with its mention of cattle "lowing," whatever that means. I find it useful to toss in random "nigh's" when in doubt. As in "Bless all the dear children in thy tender care and nigh and far and nigh, nigh, nigh."

Trust me; NO one will notice.

One of my very favorite Christmas carols is "What Child Is This?" but I have long forgotten the words. Which is why it ended up during caroling last week as "What child is this who lays in bed while shepherds wa-atch a little TV."

Usually, if you can just hang on until the chorus, things will click back into place.

This is why you must sing the chorus extra-loud because you're now back in familiar territory.

"This! This! Is Christ the king, whom angels love and leopards ring!" See?

What you don't want to do is mix your sacred and your Rudolph because, like insisting that Santa wraps, it's just plain wrong.

"O holy night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night, on the rooftop, reindeer pause."

It makes sense that we'd botch lyrics to songs we only enjoy once a year. Face it, there are still a lot of people who sing "I'm the god of Velveeta, honey."

Fortunately, Christmas is the season of forgiveness. As long as you remember the names of Rudolph's pals - Donner, Blitzen, Vixen, Cupid, Comet, Dasher, Prancer and Brandon - you'll be fine. Would I lie to you?

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