Who’s That Caroling From Muscle Memory?


xmastree_edited-1Every year, on the first Saturday in December, John Aeilli–host of the KUTX program Eclecticos–and a few other public radio people lead the Christmas caroling on the steps of the Texas Capitol and my family and I always join in. Yes, I know, no separation between church and state, but I pick and choose which principles I stand for as much as the next person. So sue me.

It’s a nice tradition; lots of people crowd around the steps and John Aeilli–who has the most beautiful  voice in Austin, just sayin’–leads us from one song to the next. Everyone gets the program booklet with the lyrics of the songs that will be sung.

And here’s the thing: What surprises me every time is how many people have to read along from the program during the classic Christmas carols. I bet you at least nine out of ten people there are either Christian or were raised Christian, and they don’t know the words to Silent Night! Even my husband, who was one of those candle boys in his church growing up, has to read along to Little Town in Bethlehem.

What do they teach y’all in church these decades? All obsessing about the war on Christmas, but on the steps of the Capitol it’s yours truly–atheist extraordinaire–who sings along with all the carols about Christ being born with her program booklet closed.

And when we’re singing what I call the shopping mall songs–White Christmas, Feliz Navidad, etc.–that’s when I have to refer to the booklet and everyone else lowers theirs.

Tut tut tut! Tsk, tsk, tsk!

But don’t worry, Christians, I’ll do my part to keep Christmas going. Now that it’s December I will be playing my Ella Fitzgerald Christmas CD in the car so my atheist kids will also know the lyrics of the classic Christmas carols. It’s hard work, but someone‘s gotta keep these traditions going!

2 responses to “Who’s That Caroling From Muscle Memory?

  1. We Earthlings are such hypocrites (about almost everything) aren’t we?

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    • Barbara Backer-Gray

      Totally. Pope Francis gives me hope, then I watched Spotlight and the day after I caroled on the steps of the state capitol. I’ve sometimes thought that, if aliens ever visited Earth, they would leave and write a report stating that we were not worth their time, because as a species we are bat-shit crazy.

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