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Christmas Carols - Celebrating the Season

Updated on February 17, 2015
Sustainable Sue profile image

With her master's in sustainable development and years-long interest in health, Susette eats, works, and lives as green as she possibly can.

Irritated Tulsan notes that he once thought Magoo was blind, until he saw this ad. Now he realizes Magoo's clumsiness came from "raging alcoholism."
Irritated Tulsan notes that he once thought Magoo was blind, until he saw this ad. Now he realizes Magoo's clumsiness came from "raging alcoholism." | Source

What gives you the coziest, most excited feeling of anticipation about Christmas? Is it the decorations? The goodies in store windows? The sales ads you hear on radio or TV? Or is it the Christmas music - the carols both old and new that play in every store, restaurant, and coffee shop you enter during this season?

The Christmas Season Begins

Just before Thanksgiving I was waiting for a latte in Starbucks. My thoughts were on our family gathering coming up, so I barely registered the tinsel on a display in front of me. Soon I found myself humming carols and realized that Starbucks was already gearing up for Christmas. I felt a flash of anger at starting so soon, but soon found myself humming again, harmonizing with a song I knew well.

Music gets me past the resentment of Christmas overshadowing Thanksgiving. It's a subtle incitement to goodwill and gift-giving -- a part of Christmas that is difficult to resent and is sorely missed when absent. Carols portray a lot more than just gifts or buying. They carry more of the beauty and the true spirit of Christmas than do visuals or advertisements at their fanciest.

Carols tell stories. They tug at your emotions and make you feel good. Can you imagine singing along with a Christmas carol about buying?

Dashing through the snow, in a one horse open sleigh.
Down the street we go, shopping all the way.
Decorations shine, and the windows all are bright.
What fun it is to think of buying everything in sight.
Oh! Credit cards, credit cards
Rescue me tonight.
Help me pay for all these things,
Wanna buy everything in sight!    - Susette Horspool

Chocolate and Christmas - How well they go together!
Chocolate and Christmas - How well they go together! | Source

Sometimes it's worth it just to wander through stores with no intention of buying -- to watch people and see the d├ęcor and listen to music. You can immerse yourself in the happiness and anticipation around you. You can remember the best Christmases you've ever had or reminisce about what Christmas really is about. If you're with a friend you can laugh and talk and point things out -- maybe even harmonize with each other to the canned music. If there's a chorus performing in the mall, you can sing softly along with them or, if you're daring and they allow it, walk up and join them for a little while.

Bloomingdales' Window Display - Each window is built to illustrate a song on Tony Bennett's 2008 Christmas CD, "A Swingin' Christmas."
Bloomingdales' Window Display - Each window is built to illustrate a song on Tony Bennett's 2008 Christmas CD, "A Swingin' Christmas." | Source

The Spirit of Christmas

What is the real spirit of Christmas about anyway? Much of it is shown in the words people sing:

Away in a Manger and O Holy Night celebrate a special child being born -- yes Jesus, but also the innocence and beauty of any little newborn coming into the world fresh from Spirit.

O Holy Night, performed by country singer Carrie Underwood

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, by Michael Jackson and the original Jackson Five

The seeking of someone or thing that can transform our lives is shown in We Three Kings and O Little Town of Bethlehem. Symbolically it could represent any one of us with the desire and will to search for a better place.

Peace on earth is honored in I Heard the Bells and It Came Upon the Midnight Clear. We could definitely use more of that.

Jingle Bells, O Christmas Tree, Jolly Old Saint Nicolas, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus all represent the fun of the season and there are many more.

The beauty of the season is sung about in White Christmas and Winter Wonderland. These scenes fit best in snowy locales, but really they're fun to sing anywhere.

There are even songs like Silver Bells and Little Drummer Boy that celebrate the music of the season.

Then there are the incredible classical music pieces, like Handel's Messiah and Ave Maria -- not really carols, but very much representative of Christmas.

Most likely you've been humming some of these songs as you read about them. How do you feel now?

Christmas Caroling of Old

Imagine what the early days were like when families and friends used to dress warm and bright, and hop in sleighs with heated bricks at their feet to be drawn by horses across the snow singing Christmas carols to all who would listen. They would stop at certain houses and be welcomed with hot cider and hugs to warm their hands and bodies, and maybe some hot replacement bricks as well. And imagine that at some of those houses there were exchanges of gifts to put under the respective Christmas trees, so the buggies went home filled with tired, smiling carolers and presents.

Carolling through the city in a one-truck trailer sleigh. (Photo no longer online.)
Carolling through the city in a one-truck trailer sleigh. (Photo no longer online.) | Source

This scene or similar scenes are partly replicated during Christmas season today by horse stables and farms and horse trolley companies in areas where it snows. The replication reminds us that openness and friendship, singing and giving creates a season that distances war, that celebrates love and acceptance of other people, including strangers. (Could you see anyone going caroling in a Hummer?)

The Magic of Christmas Caroling

There's a certain magic that comes with singing and especially with harmonizing well. Many of us in the United States grew up singing Christmas carols, either at home, at church, or in a choir somewhere. Those of us who sang the "other voices" that added depth and interest to the melody discovered that blending voices well requires a blending of spirits.

Caroling at home - Practicing until others join us.
Caroling at home - Practicing until others join us. | Source

That blending of spirits is what love is all about. Those of us who harmonize in choirs or with family and friends, feel that blending/love every Christmas when we sing carols. It's one of the most beautiful qualities of the season.

These days we get canned carols played over a sound system. Some people sing along aloud, others sing along silently. Either way, a bit of the mood is created. Carols are the most subtle and pleasant welcome to the Christmas season that there is. Even if you don't buy much, carols get you happy about the season every time.

Of course, the more you hear canned Christmas music the more you'll want good quality music at home, especially if you're hosting a party. Even one good collection can make the home scene brighter, so look through the selections below and choose, or click on one for access to more choices online.

The Words of Popular Christmas Carols

Here are some links to Christmas lyrics for you to download or caroling books for you to buy, if you want to sing live with others. If you prefer to listen and cook or get cozy with candles and a warm cuddler, there are also links to CDs below.

Whichever you choose, this year let yourself enjoy the sights, the spirit/s, and especially the sounds of Christmas!


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