I’m not religious. I don’t believe in God, despite a churchgoing childhood. Though I lack a Christian faith now, I do have a passion for the hymns and carols that I heard each week. Sunday School ended in time for us to file quietly into pews at the front of the church for the last ten minutes of the service when the congregation and choir sang hymns. Children soak up experiences and learn without trying, and those tunes and words sung week after week, and year after year, entered my brain and my heart, never to leave.
School concerts, assemblies and nativities added other songs to my Christmas repertoire and just hearing Winter Wonderland and White Christmas ignites a Pavlovian response in me now, giving me the urge to decorate a tree and eat mince pies. Since then, I have picked up lots of new carols and seasonal songs, learnt with choirs and groups of singers, or even from the television. Admit it, don’t we all get that festive feeling when we hear Jingle Bells or young Aled singing ‘we’re walking in the air’? Whether you are a believer or not, it’s hard to resist the pull of Christmas music.
Now it’s our turn to introduce these old favourites to our children. Each December, roles are reversed as parents lustily sing these songs to slightly nonplussed children . We’re introducing them to the sound of Christmas, knowing that very probably they too will sing and love these songs for years and years.
At the risk of making a shameless plug, don’t forget that if you’d like to hear carols and other winter songs, do consider buying my CD, Winter at Home:Chansons d’hiver, recorded with Les Petits Zouzous.