So in normal years, I resist Christmas until the weekend after December 8 at the absolute earliest. This is not a normal year. I saw Heather had a post about Christmas songs and I was delighted. Here is a post about Christmas songs from me. I wouldn’t say my favourite Christmas songs as there are so many but here’s a list of some Christmas songs, anyway.
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
I really feel that you can’t beat a good carol. This is a good carol. Mind you, so is Angels we have Heard on High. Excellent work all round by the angels.
I’ve gone all out this year on outdoor lights. Even two months ago, I would have called outdoor lights tacky. No longer, people. Herself and myself drove off to a place just off the M50 which was basically a series of sheds filled with Christmas tat one of which, disturbingly, smelt strongly of urine. Nevertheless, we had a great time and bought loads of Christmas lights.
We had a street light turning on last night and had socially distanced mulled wine and mince pies outside. Very satisfactory. Herself says that I have turned into Sorcha O’Carroll Kelly who is locked in mortal combat with her neighbours over Christmas lights. I reject this characterisation. However, I can tell you that Dublin is mad for outdoor Christmas lights this year and there is a reason why we had to go to a shed off the M50 to get some.
Long, there’s no two ways about it, but very Christmassy. I have turned on Christmas FM which has a questionable playlist. However, I have recently become aware of Christmas FM carols and classical (or Christmas for the middle aged) and only this morning it graced us with For unto us a child is born from the Messiah. Pleasing. They are also going with Lieutenant Kije by Prokoviev on regular repeat which is, I presume, a bit longer than the bit they’re offering on the radio but I like the extract I’m getting.
We are working on our Christmas orange decorations.
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas
I think I only heard this for the first time a couple of years ago but I like it. In other Christmas news, my sister-in-law has asked us around to their house for Christmas dinner. I am delighted. It will be festive; my sister-in-law is an excellent cook; the children will love to see their cousins; and I hope it will feel more like a normal Christmas. I am so looking forward to it. Sad that the relatives in London won’t make it back this year though.
I am fond of O Come All Ye Faithful and am shoe-horning it in here even if it doesn’t quite fit given that everyone is basically staying away this year. Sigh. We’ve never done a Christmas round robin newsletter before but Mr. Waffle is actively contemplating it this year. Stay tuned for more details.
O Little Town of Bethlehem
When my father got his triple bypass in December 1985, we thought he might be in hospital for Christmas. My mother was up in Dublin at the hospital with him and my brother, my sister and I went in to my aunt’s house next door to record a Christmas mix tape for him. My sister played the piano, my brother and aunt played the recorder and I sang. I don’t think I have ever laughed so much in my life. The recorder is not an instrument that forgives hysterical laughter either. My father was home for Christmas, so we didn’t need the tape after all which was just as well.
Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire
When I was small I had a Christmas record that featured this song. When you opened up the album there was a pop-up Christmas scene inside with Santa, Mrs. Claus and the reindeer. I thought it was the most wonderful thing imaginable. My friend and I spent hours trying to write down the full lyrics to this song listening to it over and over again. That was before the internet, kids. I have the record in Dublin now along with a Perry Como Christmas special LP (which I think actually belonged to my friend but which our family somehow ended up with) and I’ve been listening to both of them on the record player and they really remind me of Christmas in Cork in the 1970s. Sometimes on Christmas Eve, I’d go out for a drive with my father to see all the Christmas trees lit up in people’s windows and it was thrilling.
Saint Nicolas Patron des Écoliers
I wouldn’t say that this is an absolute favourite tune but it does remind me of living in Belgium when the children were small and whereas many of the nursery rhymes and songs they learnt in French have been forgotten this one remains fondly remembered. Today, you cry, is December 6, did St Nicolas come? He did.
Another Christmas number the children are keen on is Walking in the Air because of the Snowman and every number from the Muppet Christmas Carol which Michael and I watch every Christmas Eve.
All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
Along with Gaudete this is a new hymn I learnt in the parish church when we moved here in 2008. Our church has a great musical tradition and it will be very strange and sad not to have a Christmas carol service this Christmas Eve. In general, the choir mistress and I do not have musical tastes in common but I like these ones and Joy to the World and the Carol of the Bells which are staples in the carol service every year.
There’s usually a slightly chilly and damp Christmas market as well where I pick up poinsettias. Again, not a 2020 event.
I have asked the children to find an online midnight mass with hymns which we can go to on Christmas Eve in the house. It’s not really the same.
On a podcast the other day, I heard someone say “We miss each other”. And it’s true, I’m missing not just friends and family but other people and the normal everyday interactions which have largely disappeared this year.
A classic which can be very beautiful and also quite appalling. I am thinking sadly of all the Nativity plays which won’t be happening this year.
I feel very disorganised on the present front this year. Normally, I take a day off work and buy everything in a slightly exhausting but broadly enjoyable trawl through the shops. This year, it’s basically online only which, for me, removes all the spontaneity and excitement. And also, should be done by now but is not so I am feeling regular waves of mild panic. I am half thinking of taking a day off work to sit at the computer and order but my boss, in a Scrooge-like move, has asked us not to take unnecessary days off in the run up to Christmas as we are quite spectacularly busy. He’s right, we are spectacularly busy. Define unnecessary.
Needless to say, not a solitary Christmas card has yet been sent.
Driving Home for Christmas
I’m not quite sure whether we will get to Cork this year. My sister is a bit worried that our descent en masse from Covid ridden Dublin could take out both her and a number of elderly relatives. I’m not sure what to do. I suppose that we will decide closer to the time but I will be slightly heartbroken if I don’t get down to Cork over the Christmas holidays.
We usually have Christmas drinks on the Sunday afternoon before Christmas. Preparation and hosting can make me a bit tense to be honest but I love it in retrospect. Not this year and I miss it. My friend Michael who has a lovely voice and is a born performer often sings O Holy Night in several languages which is a hard act to follow.
Fairytale of New York
I love this song. There’s something about the bitter-sweet nature of it that means that you can hear it a lot over Christmas but it never loses its magic. I’m aware that the lyrics are a bit difficult but I still love it. It somehow feels very appropriate for Christmas 2020.