On Wednesday night this week, my family and nearly a hundred other people gathered at my parents’ house for their annual Christmas Caroling party.
The party dates back to 1969, when my father sang baritone in our church choir. For Christmas, my parents invited over the other choir families. Bored of singing to each other, they walked across the street and sang carols in the restaurants and saloons of Old Town Fairfax. A tradition was born.
For the past 42 years, my parents have hosted the party. All kinds of people show up. Friends, clients, neighbors, clergy, politicians. Some church-goers. Some not. Some people just walk right in.
After a few warm-up songs at my mom’s piano, we hit every downtown bar with songs like “First Noel” and “Silent Night.” The reception runs from confused silence to raucous cheering. The veteran bar owners and kitchen staff know we’re coming and come out to clap and cheer. Christmas is here.
This year we sang “O Come All Ye Faithful” at Auld Shebeen, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” at Villa Mozart, “Joy to the World” at Icons, and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” at the Wine House, and so on. Nobody heckled us. Lots of patrons joined in.
I sang every year as a youngster and young adult. (For years, my mother scheduled the party after her children got home from college). Now I lead a group from ages 7 to 77, which includes my own children.
The caroling party is at the heart of our family Christmas. I trust you have your own traditions, which make the holiday special.