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Retro Redux: In Search Of Christmas Carolers

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The holiday season is filled with traditions of all kinds but sometimes they aren't quite what they seem. That thought occurred to me recently when it dawned on me that I've never actually seen any real door-to-door Christmas carolers. (Or at least I don't think I have.*)

You know the kind I mean — you've seen them on TV or in the movies. Usually they're a small group of friends and neighbors who go from house to house, singing heart-warming holiday songs while the homeowners look on with big smiles. After the singing is completed, the carolers are given steaming cups of hot chocolate and everybody trades handshakes, hugs, and holiday wishes.

I'm sure that they do exist because I was able to find some on that site of all that's cool, YouTube, but during my considerable span of years I've never seen or heard any actual Christmas carolers in person. If you have – or if you've been one yourself – then good for you, but even when I was a kid I don't remember seeing any. However, I do remember other special traditions.

One involved a local pharmacist whose place of business was just a couple of blocks from our house. We were pretty good friends with him and were often in his drugstore to buy notions or have a soda at the fountain. Or we might get a quart of hand-packed ice cream to take home, a common practice in that era of small or nonexistent home freezers.

But back to the tradition. Every year before Christmas my Dad and I would walk down to visit, and the pharmacist would make up small glasses of eggnog for the two of them. This was the real thing, complete with a raw egg stirred into the milk (which raised the ewwww factor and kept me from wanting any), but it wasn't until I got a little older that I first noticed something strange in the process.

Just before topping the glasses with nutmeg, the pharmacist took them out of sight behind the rear counter for a minute. Then he and Dad wished each other a happy holiday, clicked glasses, and downed their treats. As we were walking home, I asked Dad why the pharmacist took the glasses behind the counter, and he told me that it was to "add some Christmas cheer". Dad was definitely more cheerful on the way home so I guess it worked.

A closing thought about holiday traditions. If you're planning to come to my house and sing Christmas carols, forget it — I'm all out of hot chocolate (and eggnog) and probably wouldn't answer the door anyway. Being a Grinch is one of my traditions.

*Disclaimer — Big Geez's memory is subject to irregular lapses and inexplicable short-circuits.

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  • Damien

    When I was a kid we caroled. I remember the fun, the warmth, the slammed doors in our faces at times :)