Every year, I look forward to going to Dicken's Day--an event put on by our town on Black Friday. Folks dress up as Dickens-era people, vendors come, shops stay open late, and there are horse drawn buggy rides through town. But forget all that. The best part is the parade at sunset. Thousands of candle-bearing people slowly process toward the markethouse singing Christmas carols. I look forward to it all year long, because it's one of the few chances I get to really sing--the one time for me to blend in, singing as loudly as I want, because I know that there are so many people and my voice won't be heard.
But this year, while everything was completely festive, there was a major hole in my celebration. There was no singing. Just a bunch of silly-looking, candle-bearing people slowly walking and looking confused. Clearly, everyone missed the singing as much as I did. A few people tried to get it started, but it never caught on. And the comment I heard most from other Dicken's Day goers? "It was great, but what happened to the singing?"
I was suprised that it meant so much to people. After all, surely many of them get to sing...? But maybe not. Church seems to be about the most likely venue for people to sing, and with fewer and few people going to church, maybe there are fewer and fewer places where it is acceptable to sing. And somehow, that outlet is something that people recognize is missing.
Why could it be so important? Because singing seems to transport us to another time, when even if it wasn't, life felt simpler. Because maybe people realize that it's fun to be part of a community that is all doing the same thing at the same time--that contrary to what our world tells us, "we" is a lot happier than "me."
Or maybe it's because that's what we were made to do--a wild voice within each of us that is clammoring to be set free. Because each of us, together with buzzing bugs and singing birds was meant to be a part of a terrific symphony.
|From Dicken's Day 2010. When there was singing. And fireworks.|