Sunday, December 19, 2010

Window Caroling


The Window Carolers, my new community-spirited club, are recruiting for their annual night of Christmas caroling. Last year, I caroled solo and it proved to be both lonesome and dangerous. There's safety in numbers, so some companionship (aside from Lu Lu Gilkey who can't carry a tune even when sober) would be greatly appreciated.

Window caroling is the latest trend in spreading holiday cheer. It involves getting uncomfortably close to people's windows. Most of the songs in the repertoire are traditional folk ballads and madrigals which must be sung quietly in order to preserve the nuance of the melodies. These are not those obstreperous Deck-the-Hall type songs that are belted out by well-meaning church choirs and shopping mall sound systems. This is a new form of caroling that I am spearheading from appreciative windowsills all over town. Some call it "roots caroling."

I've found that most people can't hear the songs from inside their homes, so it's often necessary to sing near a window, and sometimes it's best to check and see if they are listening. This somewhat personal style (which I've had to explain to law enforcement on numerous occasions) takes some time getting used to, but in the end, usually turns out to be very rewarding.

For practical reasons, the Window Carolers only sing at homes where the drapes have been left open. This is strictly a tactic that lets us know we are being appreciated. No one likes standing out in the snow, singing to the side of a building, taking a chance that the beautifully crafted melodies are simply dissolved into the cold night air. The window carolers want to be certain of an audience. Occasionally there are misunderstandings as to the intent of the caroling, and sometimes a friendly smile will smooth things over. But other times, it's necessary to sing while fleeing, so bringing any bulky instruments is not advised. My instrument of choice is a ukulele; when pressed, I can run pretty fast with it.

A few years ago, I caroled as a duo with Duane Jembly, and he insisted on bringing his stand-up bass. Well, of course, carrying that lifeboat-sized hindrance made him easy prey for the first irate homeowner on our route. It cost me fifty dollars for Duane's bail, and his bass was damaged while being loaded into the squad car.

So please join me on Christmas Eve and help make window caroling a time-honored seasonal tradition. Our first stop will be at Lu Lu Gilkey's house. She's promised to leave all the curtains open and will welcome all carolers inside to sample her holiday beverages. In years past, the caroling has gotten mired at Lu Lu's, so it will be necessary to muster our focus and move on after a few goodwill drinks.

Dress warm, wear dark clothing, and bring a good pair of running shoes. No cameras, please; they can be confiscated and used as evidence against the mission of the Window Carolers. And bring fifty dollars, just in case.
Don't make me go out alone; I'll never make it past Lu Lu's.