Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday's Picture and a Song: Christmas Caroling in Paris


Delicate Norwegian Christmas cookies. The grateful smiles of an elderly couple. Steaming hot cocoa topped with marshmallows. Old fashioned Christmas lights twinkling on snow covered houses. This is the potpourri of memories that I have of caroling for my grandparent's neighbors in Minnesota when I was a child. It's a tradition that I've carried with me around the world, organizing caroling parties for expat friends far from their families. There's something about singing "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem" that always puts me in the holiday mood, even if it's in a karaoke bar in the tropics with the air conditioner running at full blast.

Yesterday, I was very happy to join an expat Meetup group caroling in front of the St-Michel fountain in Paris. Singing off-tune to "Silent Night" and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree", I was surprised when a young man from Serbia asked me how I knew all of the lyrics. It's because these songs are a part of my life, my history.


The shoe was on the other foot, so to speak, when I went to the "Christmas Carol Service" in French and English at Les Féeries d'Auteuil because I only knew a couple of the songs, like "Entre le bouef et l'ane gris". Not wanting to hurt your ears by screeching off-tune in bad French, I kept my mouth firmly shut while filming the following video. Much to Stéphane's dismay, however, this is the song that got stuck in my head, so I've been singing the first verse over and over again at home.

Entre le bœuf et l'âne gris
Dort, dort, dort le petit fils,
Mille anges divins, mille séraphins
Volent à l'entour de ce grand Dieu d'amour.

11 comments:

  1. Mary-Kay! You went caroling this weekend! I love it!! (side bar: Weren't you cold?). Caroling and Christmas tunes really are such a huge part of our culture. Like the man from Serbia, Seb also has been impressed with my knowledge of all of the lyrics. I guess Americans are a bunch softies for nostalgia! : )

    This week I'm going to try my very best to teach my kids 'We wish you a Merry Christmas'...wish me luck!

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    1. Good luck teaching your kids "Merry Christmas"! I would love to see you in action!

      What's Seb's favorite French Christmas carol? Stephane's is "Petit Papa Noel". I think that he only knows the words for a couple of French carols which is very different from those of us who grew up in the States. I guess that it's because we always listened to them non-stop from Thanksgiving to Christmas while I was growing up.

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  2. ah what good fun. I think I'm returning to the Christkindle Market again this week to re-kindle my holiday mood.

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    1. I hope that you were able to re-kindle your holiday mood with a boot of mulled wine at the Christmas market. I got some Christollen on the way home from our nearby Christmas market this evening since they didn't have any mulled wine.

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  3. Mary Kay, why were you hiding in the back row? Don't be so shy - you're an American, you're supposed to be standing in the front so that we can see you AND hear you!!! As you know, I also love singing. Maybe we should start planning a get-together for December 2013, including ice-skating, caroling and champagne sipping? :-)

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    1. Ssshhhh, Heidi! I was trying to stay incognito! We should most definitely plan a pre-Christmas get together in December 2013 -- but first we have to plan something for the first quarter of the year. It could include ice-skating, champagne sipping and singing old songs! :)

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  4. How wonderful to see you on video.....but why were you hiding?

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    1. I was hiding because I didn't want to be seen on the video! :-0 I guess that my camouflage skills still need some work!

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  5. Lovely! I didn't know about your secret life on the stage!!!

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  7. Even a bah humbug person like me LOVES singing Carols. Thanks for the idea, I must find a carol concert now.

    Love Denise

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