A Book of Joy, Day 4, by Briana Elizabeth

We’re singers in my house.

We wake up singing, and we sing all day. If someone hums…God forbid they hum… we all start singing that song that they were humming. It could be three notes under the breath, and that’s it, we’re all there, singing. So many children visit and think it the strangest thing ever when mom goes around singing (Or whistling. I’m no one noter, though, I whistle opera, show tunes, and Bugs Bunny).

I think they got it from my side of the family. My Nana and Papa sung as they played the piano together when they were dating. Old songs. Cheesy, sweet, funny songs. Old Irish songs. My mother sang in choirs. I don’t remember a time in school that I wasn’t in the school chorus.

Most of my kids are in choirs at the local schools, and my oldest son is in honors choir and the local Oratorial Society. They all were in county chorus this year. So during the holidays, we have concerts back to back. We’ve been to two amazing performances, and we still have 4 more to go to.

It is glorious. Christmas songs from all over the world are sung, night after night. I hear polyphony is on this year’s list, and I’m already swooning in anticipation. The last song of honors choir is traditionally Handel’s Messiah, with all alumni asked to come up on the stage, also.

By that time I have tears streaming down my face (I told you about that note that makes me cry. Ahem.).

Singing together must be the oldest form of companionship and celebration.  I have no idea when it became uncool to sing songs around a piano on a holiday, but I think we should bring it back. It’s fun. It makes people happy. It’s beautiful. It’s transcendent. It binds us together in our shared humanity, no matter where we hail from.

One of my favorite Christmas memories as a teen was a friend’s family hosting a caroling. There must have been 20 of us, all bundled up, and we went around the town singing our hearts out. The mother had a huge pot of hot chocolate on the stove when we got back, and it was such a splendid time. It was fun. Brilliant, shining, fun.

See if you can gather a few friends and take the kids to the local police station to sing carols. Sing to the firemen. Sing at a nursing home. Sing at the local hospital. Go to the town square and sing. Sing the old songs, the ones that everyone knows.

If you can’t do any of that, then by all means, light a candle and sit in the living room and sing some Christmas carols. Sing them around the fire, or around the piano, if you have one.

Sometimes a song, even weakly sung is the only way to light a candle to the world’s darkness.

Here some songs to get you started.


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