My dad hated carol singers with a venom. He refused to answer the door to them and would become apoplectic if we timidly suggested giving them 5p.
I don’t know why this was. His general Scrooge-like attitude to everything that required payment? Memories of a viciously Catholic upbringing that had him do his time as an altar boy, forced to listen to dolorous carols for hour after lightheaded hour? An aversion to anyone who came to the door, for whatever reason?
Whatever, we used to be forbidden to move as we listened to the warbling outside, while he rolled his eyes and turned the TV up.
Some nights there would be three or four groups visiting, everyone from posh kids with clarinets doing In The Deep Midwinter to the local oiks in santa hats, belting out We Wish You A Merry Christmas.
I am now, as a homeowner with a front door of my own to sing outside of, in a position to do it differently.
But I can’t – there are no carol singers anymore.
It has been years since we had anyone screeching Silent Night on our doorstep.
Is it because they don’t teach carols in school anymore?
My childhood Christmasses were stitched together with renditions of Once In Royal David’s City, Oh Come All Ye Faithful and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. The first Christmas song I ever learned was Away In A Manger. Now I assume it is All I Want For Christmas Is You (Mariah Carey version).
Or is it a reluctance to ask the neighbours for money? Don’t people have spare change in the house anymore? Is it not worth two hours getting a sore throat and cold feet for a couple of quid and a pocketful of floury mince pies?
Or do too many people claim they are ‘spiritual but not religious’, meaning they are physically incapable of singing carols? I’m not Christian (blame a Catholic childhood…) but I shamelessly deck the halls at Christmas and hum O Little Town Of Be-ethleham’ while opening my Advent calendar. Anything else is humbug.
There is also another reason, if the amount of sweets we get through on October 31 in recent years is anything to go by – everyone who used to go carol singing is trick or bloody treating instead.