15 December 2007

The Caroling Club

These things don’t just happen by themselves, you know.

Are we all bundled up and ready to go? Everybody have mittens? You can’t carol if you don’t wear mittens! Good. We’ve spent such a long time planning this, and I wouldn’t want anything to go wrong. Since the blizzard is so bad, I guess I’m not sorry that you voted unanimously to reject my proposal that we rent Victorian costumes for this evening. I’m sure they’d have been warm enough, but we probably would have risked getting them wet and spoiled, and you know the costume-rental company would charge us extra for that. And after what happened last year, when I spent four months sewing those cute little von Trapp Family outfits for everybody — well, I’m not going through that again.

Does everybody remember our caroling route? We’re going to turn left onto Elm Street, and we cover the west side first, then the east side. Then onto Maple Avenue — and again, that’s Maple Avenue, not Mapletree Court — north first, then south. Then we are completely silent while crossing Elm again, because we don’t want to spoil the mood. Then it’s on to Hickory Street, but only the west side, because the people on the east side asked us not to come this year. But this way, we won’t have to double back, and we’ll go straight on to the band shell at Runnybrook Park. Then we cross the park and stop off at the old folks’ home and —

Yes, I know it’s a long route this year, and I know the Weather Service is predicting another five inches tonight. That’s why I brought this special industrial-strength artificial pine garland. Just hold onto it, and you won’t get lost. And it will look very cute, too. I am sorry, but it’s precisely during a blizzard that people really need holiday cheer. That’s what the Caroling Club is here for: holiday cheer. We can warm up for a few minutes while we’re singing at at the old folks’ home. And there will be hot cocoa and tasty cookies for everyone when we get to Mrs. Peavy’s house. No, we are not taking another vote on this. It is decided.

So is everybody ready? Let’s get started — except for you, Suzy. I thought I made it clear: you cannot come waltzing in here at the last minute and expect to go caroling. The Caroling Club has standards. You do not meet our standards. We have been rehearsing for two months, Suzy. It’s not just the words and the caroling route that we’ve been practicing, it’s the four-part harmonies. It’s the gestures. It’s the wholesome smiling. It’s the whole Caroling Club attitude. You do not have the Caroling Club attitude.

Caroling Club, Christmas 2006: A good time was had by all.
Need I remind you?

And Danny Guller, I don’t mean to practice discrimination, but you ought to have the good sense to figure it out for yourself: Jewish people do not go Christmas caroling. Just go home. This has nothing to do with you personally, it has to do with your people. Your people don’t sing about Christmas. They just don’t. And if you mention Irving Berlin to me one more time, I promise you, I am going to scream.

And Johnny, what are you doing here? I told you last year that you couldn’t come this year. Members of the Caroling Club do not pee in the yards of the people we are singing to. I know you say it was an accident, but we in the Caroling Club do not have accidents. We think about these things before we leave the house. I cannot emphasize too much: we have standards in the Caroling Club.

Yes, I know that Mr. Loomis isn’t here this evening. I’m very sorry about that. He says he wouldn’t be able to play his French horn in the snow anyway. His lip tends to stick to the mouthpiece. I know that will make some of our carols a little thin-sounding, especially “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” but I’ve written out some new arrangements that you can study on the way to Elm Street. Margery, will you pass these out for me? Thank you.

Mr. Loomis is not a quitter. That’s a very mean thing to say, Tommy. I’m sure he would be here if he could, but his mother passed away last night.

What do you mean, his mother passed away last year, too? That can’t be right.

Look, it’s not as if anybody’s forcing you to come caroling. They are? Well that’s no reason to take it out on me. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into planning this. The least you can do is show a little cooperation.

All right, we really need to get going now. Big smiles, everybody! Hold onto the garland! Here we go!

Wait, everybody — Elm Street is that way!