Michele, my voice teacher and friend, sent out an invitation to some caroling in her neighborhood. Even though she lives way over in north Berkeley, I decided to go — I didn’t know anyone who was going to go caroling near where we live, and I wasn’t up to organizing caroling on my own.
Close to twenty people gathered in Michele’s living room yesterday evening. We introduced ourselves, and ran through two carols where we thought we might sing some harmony — “Silent Night” and “Deck the Hall.” Fortunately there was another bass there who helped me through “Deck the Hall,” and I was able to help him once or twice in “Silent Night” — it’s always easier to sing your part when there’s someone else singing with you.
We headed out into Michele’s neighborhood. Michele said we would only sing at houses where we could see Christmas decorations. There were half a dozen children with us, and they ran ahead to scope out likely houses. We’d gather on the sidewalk in front of the house, Michele would quietly tell us which carol — “‘Frosty the Snowman,’ page 3 of the packet!” — the kids would ring the doorbell, and as soon as someone showed up, we’d sing.
Some people listened to us while standing indoors; in one case because there were dogs that desperately wanted to get out; in other cases maybe because it’s a little weird to have a score of people standing in front of your house singing. Other people came out and listened. Reactions ranged from politely tolerant to very enthusiastic. One woman, who had a foreign accent (maybe Middle Eastern?), was really very touched by the singing; we sang her another song.
After an hour, we were getting cold, and some of the younger kids were getting a little bit tired. So we all said “Good night!” and “Merry Christmas!” and dispersed into the night; the younger kids probably heading for bed. As for me, I had some errands to run in downtown Berkeley; but I found myself humming Christmas carols all the way home.