We used to got caroling each year back when we lived in Farmington. My parents would pile us into the car and we’d rehearse on the way between houses, then sing a song or two in front of the houses. After we sang, we’d be invited in for cookies and to admire their trees.
I now expect that Mother had arranged in advance so our hosts would be home. I remember singing for Aunt Helen Hodgekins (who wasn’t really an aunt but was related to us through Grandmother having been married to a Mr. Hodgekins (I don’t know if I ever met) for a while. She also had Christmas parties we went to sometimes.
I’m sure we also sang to other people- the Murrays, the Bownes, the Roberts, probably Grandmother if she weren’t coming with us, but mostly I remember the Ibarguanes. They had a train set up in their basement that was huge, it went around the outside of the whole downstairs room (you had to duck under it to cross the room), and there were tons of train accessories on shelves around the edges. But more interesting- to me- was their tree. They always had a little tree- shorter than a child- and it was covered with tinsel. You could hardly see the ornaments, and you could certainly not see the tree. The ornaments were all interesting shapes too; I’m sure it was their ornaments that inspired me to collect shaped rather than round blown glass ornaments on my tree.
When we moved to Winchester we didn’t go out caroling anymore, we attended a Caroling Party at the Banks(?) three doors down, along with the Rivinius (our next door neighbors) and the Rozelles (beyond the Banks). There were refreshments including spiked and non-spiked eggnog; that’s where I first tasted a rum ball (I’d heard about them for years), and I had to find a place to spit it out. Then we all went into the living room, someone played the piano, and with the aid of little carol books we’d sing through all of them. I was always surprised that people didn’t know all the words. Apparently our family learned lyrics more easily than most people. Perhaps it was that Mother had them on the record player from when she did the cards, or that we sang a lot at our house, and in the car. I remember the Sing Along with Mitch albums that came with several lyric sheets in the case. I think we had a Christmas Album of his. Sadly we lost my favorite album and I’ve never seen it since. It was called Christmas Bells, and was carols all done by Carillon, the best version of Carol of the Bells I’ve ever heard. (I’ve probably bought a half dozen or more albums trying to find it again.) I’m also not sure that many people don’t figure that they need not bother learning the words when they can read them when they need them. Go fig.
Although we didn’t go caroling anymore, for several years we took a drive at some point just to look at the lights, and we sang for ourselves during those trips. I’ve always wanted to have adult caroling, and tried to organize it as part of the solstice feast, but singing as a group doesn’t seem to be popular, except around a campfire.