Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
October 2020
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Rules for Christmas Songs

A couple of weeks before Christmas it occurred to me that there were certain conventions that applied to music at Christmas, with the first item on the list below popping into my head after I’d heard some rendition of “Little Drummer Boy” on the radio. Over the next several days some other “rules” occurred to me as I thought about the festive season repertoire, and, in dribs and drabs, I posted the following to Facebook. Here, now, is the complete collection.


Rules for Christmas songs #1: You can get away with having a lousy singer doing the melody to “The Little Drummer Boy” provided you have some others doing competent harmonies and an awesome drum track.

Rules for Christmas songs #2: If you are going to do “Coventry Carol” make sure you decide, in advance, whether you are going to resolve the final chord as a major or a minor … and tell everyone in the group.

Rules for Christmas songs #3: Nobody sings all 6 (or 7 or maybe 9) verses of “The First Noel” … assuming they can even find a hymnal that has that many. [Ironically, this year my aunt did, at her community carol singing event.]

Rules for Christmas songs #4: The words to “In the Bleak Midwinter” don’t fit. They never have. They never will.

Rules for Christmas songs #5: Boris Ord’s version of “Adam Lay Ybounden” must be sung in an acoustically vibrant stairwell.

Rules for Christmas songs #6: If anyone happens to be in the stairwell when you are singing Boris Ord’s version of “Adam Lay Ybounden” they will fail to show any glimmer of recognition … due to the fact that following Rule #5 means that no one has ever heard it before.

Rules for Christmas songs #7: If you are carolling in Australia you must sing at least one carol by an Australian composer. Good luck with finding one. 

Rules for Christmas songs #8: Once you’ve passed verse 6 you can probably skip alternate verses of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. (As an aside, did you know that — given that the author of this song receives 12 partridges (one every day), 22 turtle doves (two every day for the last 11 days) and so on — the true love gives 364 gifts, which is one for every day of the year except Christmas Day.)

Rules for Christmas songs #9: The final bracket of songs in a carolling session must end with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” (despite the fact that it has the most self-centred, greedy, tantrum-threatening verse in the entire Christmas song repertoire).

Rules for Christmas songs #10: You can mess with everyone’s head by programming a whole bunch of familiarly-titled Christmas carols and then singing the most obscure alternative versions that you can possibly find.

Rules for Christmas songs #11: You must not allow a startled look to cross your face when you find that everyone else knows a completely different version of the carol that you have been singing all your life.

Rules for Christmas songs #12: You should not sing “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” on a day of Total Fire Ban.

Rules for Christmas songs #13: “Silent Night” shall be accompanied by piano or organ … despite the fact that it was written for guitar accompaniment.

Rules for Christmas songs #14: Another way to mess with everyone’s heads is by playing all the happy, jaunty carols in their corresponding minor keys.

Rules for Christmas songs #15: Everybody has at least one Christmas song that is just “Noooooooooo! We’re NOT doing THAT one.”

Rules for Christmas songs #16: No one regards the soundtrack to “Die Hard” as a Christmas album. Therefore “Die Hard” is NOT a Christmas movie.

Rules for Christmas songs #17: If singing Christmas songs in Australia, you are allowed to sing “Let it Snow”, “Frosty the Snowman” and other wintry ditties without any sense of irony or bemusement.

Rules for Christmas songs #18: You’re allowed to like one song that everyone else thinks is kitsch/tedious/unpoetic/poorly composed/un-Christmassy. But only one. And not anything off Justin Bieber’s Christmas album.

Rules for Christmas songs #19: Parents are permitted to require the singing of at least one song before gift-unwrapping may commence.

Rules for Christmas songs #20: Children may be able to get away with an early start on Christmas morning by singing a carol in beautiful four part harmony and taking advantage of the “how adorable” factor. This does, however, require the existence of the requisite number of siblings … or a multi-track recording device and some preparation.

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