Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Diary of a Carol Singer

Feel pleased as punch with myself for remembering to put Christmas Earrings and Santa hat into my hand bag as I head out the door for work.

12 noon               
Frantically search the Internet for a copy of the sheet music for ‘Ring Christmas Bells’ in 4 part harmony, that the family learned and sang when carol singing 3 years ago.

Finally admit that the Internet has changed over the past 3 years, and go for a slightly different arrangement of ‘Ring Christmas bells’ since it's all I can find!

Download piano keyboard app on iPhone

Arrive at Jonny and Jessima’s house to meet everyone, song sheet in hand.
Put on Christmas earrings and Santa hat.  Am now feeling suitably festive.
Find 2 year old Jordan wearing bright green shirt and Santa’s hat looking every bit the Christmas elf.  Dance to the Michael Buble Christmas CD with 1 year old Jacey and 4 year old Jenna in their Christmas dresses.  Enjoy the smell of Jessima’s freshly baked Chocolate Chip biscuits ready for the ‘goodies plates’ we’ll take to Carollers.

James, Abby, 3 year old Maggie and 1 year old Ana arrive – dressed very festively.
Noise level rises.

Mum and Dad arrive, with more goodies in tow.
Noise level rises again.
Begin to teach James the Tenor part to ‘Ring Christmas Bells’ using the iPhone keyboard App.

Bethany, Robbie and Baby Hallie (in her Santa dress – adorable) arrive.
Noise level rises again.  Can no longer hear Michael Buble.  Has the CD been turned off?
Mum pulls out the Christmas plates, cellophane and ribbon and begins to put together the goodies plates using the biscuits and chocolates the girls of the family have made/contributed.
Pull Abby and Bethany over to teach them the Alto part and have them sing it with James the Tenor.  Turns out they remember the Alto part and we don’t even need to go over it.  Awesome!

Assign James to teach Robbie the tenor part. 
Double check Jessima remembers the Soprano part (she does. She’s awesome too).
Pull Dad into the other room to teach him the bass part in a place where we can hear the notes coming off my iPhone at full volume.
Dad’s ability to read music is actually kind of impressive.  He gets it down.
Jonny arrives home (our other base – yay!) and joins dad.  Pretty wicked bass section if you ask me.

Pull everyone together for a practise of the song all together. 
Realize we can’t hear ourselves singing over the noise of the children.
Sing louder.
Realize the tenors haven’t quite got their part down.
Realize I taught it to James in the wrong octave, who taught it to Robbie in the wrong octave. 
Realize they’re on their own because it’s time to leave.

Load into cars.  I’m travelling with Mum and Dad, but agree to run over to Jonny and Jessima’s car every time we arrive to help them with the third child.
Arrive at first house – Bryn & Joan
Plan - Sing Rudolph while they come to the door.
Actuality – They’re waiting at the front door because we made so much noise getting out of the cars.
Sing Rudolph anyway.  Gran gives Jordan the plate of goodies to give to Joan.  Jordan gives her the plate, steps through her front door and wanders on into the house. (Good thing Joan is not an ax murderer)
We sing an appallingly bad rendition of Ring Christmas Bells.
Conversation all round.  Joan and Brynn bring out a chocolate for everyone.

Jordon comes back to the door for chocolates.
A light bulb goes on in the minds of each grandchild as they realize that the chocolates are obviously the point of all this singing.
Sing We Wish You A Merry Christmas as we traipse back to the cars.

Arrive at Neville & Hazel’s house.
Make just as much noise getting out of the cars, except this time the noise is more of the ‘shhhhhhhh’ variety.
Family again waiting at the door by the time we get there.  Heavy sigh.
Neville, Hazel and son Ben appear to really enjoy our songs.  Despite the fact that we yet again do a spectacularly bad version of Ring Christmas Bells.
It has become apparent that the Tenors really don’t know what they’re doing. Luckily they can blame me for this, since I taught it to them in the wrong octave etc. etc.
Hazel gives flowers to some of the children.  They’re clearly delighted.

Back into the cars. Bethany and Robbie need petrol, and Dad sends me back to Bethy with a message to stop at the Servo on Springwood Road, and that we’ll all wait for them further up the road.
Dad also sends me to tell Jonny and Jessima that we’ll be waiting on the side of the road for Bethany and Robbie.  I misunderstand, and tell them they need to follow Bethany and Robbie. Which they do. To the petrol station.

Bethany drives too far along the one way street we’re all waiting for them on, driving past the street we’re supposed to turn onto.  This causes Dad to have a mini heart attack worrying about how they’ll get back.
Mum and I are laughing.
The rest of us turn into the street and again wait on the side of the road while Bethany evidently does a series of U-Turns and eventually joins us. 

Arrive to the next family on the list, but they’re on a very short strip of road crowded with construction materials and caravans. 
3 of our 4 cars get caught in the dead end street and a series of multi-point turns ensues.  Jonny is particularly interesting to watch as he has the biggest car.
We’re getting better at being quiet as we get out of the cars.
Bethany announces that Robbie will be driving from now on.
Ring Christmas Bells is getting just a little better, but we all struggle not to laugh during the last line which the tenors sing on their own… In theory.
Back in the cars.  I’ve transferred to Jonny and Jessima’s car and have fun talking with the kids in the back seats.

We get out of the car at Ally’s house.
We sing, the door opens. All occupants in pyjamas. Sorry it’s getting late! At least we brought goodies! :)
Tenors give up singing half way through and begin an intense discussion with overhead snippets such as ‘no, it’s this bar here that’s getting us.  We need to go down here’ and ‘Next time we’ll listen to them sing this note and then they’ll sing that note’ etc. 

Everyone follows Jonny and Jessima to the next house on the list.
Getting lost with 3 cars following in a series of U-turns and left and right turns. Confusion and slightly heated discussion between parents in front seat about who is most confused about the directions.
Jenna from the back seat:  Daddy! You should have listened to Mummy!

Arrive at Smibert’s house
Sing our thing.  Almost have it down. 
They are impressed with our singing abilities, which would have something to do with the fact that they most certainly hadn’t heard our earlier renditions.

Back in the cars
4 year old Jenna asks if we can go home because she’s sleepy and is relieved to hear there’s only house to go.
2 year old Jordan begins singing the Alto and Tenor parts ‘Ring, ring, ring’ from the backseat.  Am beyond impressed with how completely on pitch he is and ask him to please sing with the tenors because they need the help.
Jordan: *pause* okay.
1 year old Jacey is asleep
Front seat discussion still centers around who's better with directions...

Final house: Lee, Sarah and kids.
They hear us coming (obviously still not mastering that quiet thing) and are waiting.
We sing. Perfectly.  The tenors finally have it down, and the Basses  complete the song with a perfectly sung and very low ‘riiiinnnnnnggggg’
We almost burst into spontaneous applause at our own brilliance.
Lee swears he has never heard a more impressive group of singers.  We are, of course, modest about our brilliance.  The best singers always are...

We all gather back on the street to say our goodbyes to each other. 
Mum & Dad heading home where Mum will no doubt spend another several hours working on Christmas Presents.
Abby & James off with the little girls who are no doubt ready for bed.
Bethany & Robbie with little Hallie have an hour drive home, but Robbie declares
that the carol singing thing is actually a great tradition  (he’s still high on the tenor’s final success).
Jonny, Jessima, the kids and I pile back into their car.  The kids are ready to go home but have a second wind now.  We Christmas light spot the rest of the way home “look at that one!” “wow! Look at that house!”

Back in my car, heading home.
Wonderful evening.  Feeling very Christmassy.
Joy to the world!

Wide awake, lying in bed. Brain won’t turn off.
Am now cursing those Chirstmas bells...

Ring Christmas Bells, Ring Christmas Bells, Ring Christmas Bells, Ring Christmas Bells, Ring Christmas Bells, Ring Christmas Bells, Ring Christmas Bells...


  1. Hahaha, I had that song in my head all night too! I kept singing it and Robbie kept asking me to please sing the tenors part so he could hear what it's meant to be, Lol. As if I knew. I only knew the alto because it was the easiest part!

    Fun times. Robbie fired me from driving about the same time I was willing to give up the position. Hallie was screaming in the back seat the whole time because she was so tired. Hearing her cry like that always gets me on edge and panicky! And then my driving tends to suffer...just slightly :P

    Thanks for teaching us Tam. Hahaha, there were some good laughs :) xoxo

  2. Lol - I think the earlier renditions were more fun, although it was kind of hilarious how stoked we were with our own achievement in FINALLY getting it right at the last house!! :)

    I think Bethany should have given up driving when she (apparently having immediately decided not to follow the 3 cars in front of her) turned right instead of left out of Jonny and Jessima's street 30 seconds into the outing!! :)

  3. (Lol! Just read Abby's comment - I didn't know Bethy did that!)

    I think all of us left saying, "lets's have a good practice before we go out next year" - so at least we would all like to do it again! :)

    One of my main memories from the night is Asa asking us if you have to audition before you join our family, and I thought, 'yes, but not to sing!' :)


  4. hahah! sounds like a full on evening! Lovely idea though :)

  5. i had so much fun reading this post tammy you did such a wonderful job writing it i felt like i was there with u all...