Last week, we were invited to a friend’s house for a night of “Christmas Caroling,” seemingly a nostalgic throwback to old times when make-your-own music was part of the sentiment of Christmas. We showed up, duly bellowed out a songbooks of traditional Christmas songs like Hark The Herald Angels Sing, Silent Night, We Wish you a Merry Christmas and so forth. We were as a group in tune, out of tune, and graciously accompanied by a skilled pianist and cellist.
By 9 p.m. we thought it was about over, and people were starting to edge toward the door. But no, that is when Michael announced that we were going to go door-to-door. Meaning we would bang on people’s doors, and start singing our repertoire. Worst of all, we would do it without the skilled accompaniment.
Typical responses were “are you out of your mind?” “It is too late.” “Someone will call the police.” And of course the modern American standby: “You’ll get shot!” Or to paraphrase the movie “A Christmas Story,” “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
But Michael was persuasive. So we duly trotted out, and banging on doors, and confronting random bicyclists with our version of “music.”
The casualties? A round of applause at one house, thank yous from others, and worst of all we were pelted with chocolate. As for the random bicyclists they stopped and produced cookies for our whole choir of out-of-tune singers. And no one shot us, or even showed up armed.
So to all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and have a Blessed New Year!
Tony Waters is czar and editor of Ethnography.com. He came to us from the Sociology department at California State University at Chico where he has been a professor since 1996. In 2016 though he suddenly found himself with a new gig at Payap University in northern Thailand where he is on the faculty of the Peace Studies Department. He has also been a guest professor in Germany, and Tanzania. In the past, his main interests have been international development and refugees in Thailand, Tanzania, and California. This reflects a former career in the Peace Corps (Thailand), and refugee camps (Thailand and Tanzania). His books include: Crime and Immigrant Youth (1999), Bureaucratizing the Good Samaritan (2001), The Persistence of Subsistence Agriculture: Life Beneath of the Marketplace (2007), When Killing is a Crime (2007), and Schooling, Bureaucracy, and Childhood: Bureaucratizing the Child (2012). His hobby is trying to learn strange languages–and the mistakes that that implies. Tony is a prolific academic, you can read more of his work at academia.edu.or purchase one (or more!) of his books from Amazon.com.