It was almost five weeks ago, while we were still extracting Halloween candy from our teeth, that I admitted to being less than fond of local radio stations prematurely playing Christmas songs 24 hours a day. Now that we have front yards decorated and some bone-chilling temperatures, I’m all for the comfort and joy these familiar tunes provide.
Whether secular or religious, we have memorized the lyrics and tunes of these songs. Most of us know most of the words.
I remember hearing a story about a little boy looking at a manger scene and asking, “Where is round John Virgin?” He apparently didn’t quite understand all the correct words to "Silent Night."
The melodic songs of the holidays immediately provide a time transport to childhood. I can remember gleefully joining in at an early age long before I knew the significance of why "all is calm” or the reason “all is bright.”
There’s not a child alive who can’t wait to yell “Hey!” during the chorus of "Jingle Bells." We all did it, and now we smile as the grandchildren do the same thing from their car seats.
Rhythm and rhyme
The songs of the season are so familiar, I could probably merely mention just a few of the rhyming words used in a particular song, and you’d know that song. For instance, frightful and delightful or listening and glistening. Strike a familiar chord? Paws can certainly find a rhyming companion with Claus and spy will always match up with fly.
You’re with me, right? You know these songs and sing them joyfully this time of year — every year.
And by the way, I’ve never roasted a chestnut over an open fire, but during the Charleston Christmas parade, I always received a still warm bag of boiled peanuts from the late Tony the Peanut Man. I don’t miss the peanuts so much, but I sure miss Tony.
Meanwhile, back to this rhyming theme. If a song mentions holly, then be on the lookout for the rhyming couplet that includes jolly.
Maybe that’s what makes these songs so endearing — they just capture a simple spirit of giving and caring that seems to make us feel like the world still has a chance.
You better watch out
So where’s all this singing and festive feelings leave us? I tell you where ... if you let it, it’ll leave you in a better place.
When the words of "Away in a Manger" tell us "the cattle are lowing,” I know exactly how that sounds.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen “bells on bobbed-tail ring,” but it’s the perfect sound track to a sleigh ride.
And who would ever express a desire to say hello by stating “friends and relations, send salutations.” I agree, relations is a tricky word for which to find a rhyming partner.
It’s the time of year where it’s perfectly fine to hum, whistle, or carry a tune you just heard on the radio. It quickens the step, brightens a smile and might even infect a passing stranger or a clerk with the same affliction.
If you’re afraid you don’t know all the words, don’t panic. Just find one that rhymes. Be considerate, though. It’s probably not best to channel your inner Andrea Bocelli during a young soprano’s effort to deliver "O Holy Night."
In the next couple of weeks, attend those concerts, stop to listen to a street musician and when possible, sing like nobody’s watching. Even round John Virgin would appreciate the spirit and the effort.