My favourite part of Christmas as a child was Christmas Eve. Christmas Day itself always tumbled by too quickly – a turbulent mix of torn wrapping paper, long distance car-sweat, swollen stomachs and heated tempers. In contrast, Christmas Eve was quiet, peaceful and candlelit – my family would sit around our decorated pine tree and sing carols with a little portable keyboard, enjoying my mother’s delightful fruitcake. I absolutely loved it.
The traditional carols hold so much more connotation and imagination between the notes than our modern day ‘pop carols’. And by ‘traditional’, I mean those that don’t talk about Santa Claus or our modern Christmas traditions of over-indulgence, over-spending and overwhelmed. Traditional carols are those that conjure up images of the true nature of Christmas.
People argue about this a lot (why bother?!), but for me, it’s about luminescent stars in the north sky, snowy European scenes, Angels singing heavenly harmonies and Three Wise Men visiting a new born child (and, for any challengers with fingers already poised to comment, I know December 25 isn’t the ‘real’ date!).
Think I’m being naive and childish? Come on, what other time of year do we really get to legitimately indulge in such childhood fancy? I’d much rather indulge in tannenbaums, trumpeting angels and tinkling bells for a few days than eat too much lard and accumulate another sleigh-full of ‘stuff’.
So, back to my childhood carolling. You can understand that I was genuinely disappointed when I got older and started developing a hatred for Christmas songs – which I can blame squarely on forced over-exposure to celebrity Christmas albums for months preceding the big event. I haven’t been able to look at a carol the same way since then.
Happily, this year, things are changing. I’ve somehow managed to survive the pre-Christmas season with only vague memories of Michael Bublé flitting past my ears somewhere along the line. And, for the first time in years, I’m actually longing for a good carol sing-a-long.
So if, like me, you’re in a carolling mood, here’s a story to warm the cockles of your heart.
A group of garbage men from Veolia Environmental Services waste centre in Hove, UK, have formed a choir and will carol around the neighbourhood raising money for a British mental health charity.
The best bit? They’ve re-worked the carols to encourage people to think more about recycling – my personal favourite is ‘O Come All Ye Wasteful’. Brilliant.
© Manu Saunders 2011