Beyond the Byline: A caroling we must go

By Bill O’Boyle - [email protected] | December 9th, 2017 4:44 pm

WILKES-BARRE — So when was the last time you had carolers outside your door?

I’ll bet it’s been a while — a long while at that.

Caroling seems to have become a lost art. I can remember back in the day when carolers were everywhere — in courthouse rotundas, department store toy departments, bank lobbies, public squares, Main Streets, schools, churches and, yes, neighborhoods, where a group of carolers would walk, stop, sing, walk, stop and sing up and down town streets.

And if it would snow when the carolers were caroling, ahhhh, that would make it so much nicer.

“Sleigh bells ring, are you listening

In the lane, snow is glistening

A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight

Walking in a winter wonderland.”

I can still hear those carolers, and we would sing along as they passed by our house.

Oh, what fun it was to sing a sleighing song on those nights.

It’s good to remember. My memories are like yours and we cherish them as the days and years go by.

So I was sitting in a favorite spot last week and the usual was going on — football game was on, several basketball games were playing, food was coming out platter after platter and patrons were going back and forth on several topics.

It was just like almost every other night — Penn State is better than Notre Dame. Go Yankees. Eagles are going to the Super Bowl. Yeah, and Tom Brady didn’t deflate those footballs. Hey, that was a bad call. The fix is in. Did you hear about that bank robbery and shooting.

And on and on, night after night. Fun, usually, but redundant for sure.

So in an attempt to stir the drink a little and move a bit from the same-old, same-old, I made a suggestion.

I suggested that we have a Christmas carol night where we would all sing — together, not solo — those traditional carols that we all long for, but seldom dare to listen to these days.

“Gone away is the bluebird

Here to stay is a new bird

He sings a love song, as we go along

Walking in a winter wonderland.”

It just rolls off your tongue. What a great tune.

So I went on to explain why I thought it would be a great way for us to spend time together. Why, I asked, shouldn’t we do this? Can’t we, for one lousy night, shut off the big screen TVs and gather around, over by the Christmas tree, and sing some carols? Is that too much to ask?

Whether people realize it or not, we have to start doing things to save ourselves from ourselves. We have to adjust our priorities — yes, put away those cell phones — and sing some Christmas songs.

“In the meadow we can build a snowman

Then pretend that he is Parson Brown

He’ll say: Are you married? We’ll say: No man

But you can do the job when you’re in town.”

I really want this to happen. Have you ever seen people singing Christmas songs who aren’t smiling? Have you ever not enjoyed belting out “God rest ye merry gentlemen,” while in the privacy of your own home or car? Of course, you have enjoyed that experience.

So why not go public? Gather with your friends and show that you have the Christmas spirit and you want to help spread it throughout your community.

“Later on, we’ll conspire

As we dream by the fire

To face unafraid, the plans that we’ve made

Walking in a winter wonderland.”

I’m afraid that if we don’t start doing things like caroling, we may continue on the road to nowhere. We will one day wake up and it will be Dec. 25, just another day. We have to preserve our traditions, and we must not be afraid to show our love of the holiday spirit.

My friends probably think I’m crazy. Some of them think I’m kidding about this caroling thing. But I respond by saying that I know they will be glad they did this. They will feel better, and they will enjoy the time we spend together singing our hearts out.

When I was a kid, I had a Smothers Brothers record. One song froze me when I listened:

“You better not cry,

You better not shout,

You better not pout,

I’m telling you why.

Santa Claus is dead.”

At first I laughed — it was funny. Wasn’t it?

Now I’m not so sure.

Sing some Christmas carols with me.

Bill O’Boyle O’Boyle

By Bill O’Boyle

[email protected]

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle, or email at [email protected]