Monday, December 23, 2013

Reader's Diary #1096- John Updike: The Carol Sing



Earlier this week I attended an annual community event (it'll have to remain nameless— it's a small town!) that I normally enjoy. This year, most likely due to a recent death in the family (despite it being expected), I couldn't get into said event. I just wasn't wasn't feeling it. The interesting part, however, is that it felt like no one else was either. Was this a case similar to those stereotypical stoners who, once stoned, think everyone else is too? "Look at Alf chasing that cat! He's so got the munchies!" Only in my case, instead of feeling high, I was feeling low and the energy in the room also felt subdued. (And no, I wasn't being a wet-blanket bringing everyone down.) Maybe it wasn't actually that way, maybe it's a survival mechanism; cheery Christmas people can potentially get under the skin of a depressed person— it's easier to pretend they're not cheery.

In John Updike's "The Carol Sing" it's not quite the situation I described above. A group of people are out to carol once again, but despite singing the same songs as previous years, the narrator suspects that no one's heart is really in it. One of them passed away recently and clearly they are all missing him. Still, they've decided to continue on. Different than my situation, as where I was no one knew of my deceased family member who had never been part of their group, but the idea of tradition and resiliency was not lost on me.

Well, why anything? Why do we? Come every year sure as the solstice to carol these antiquities that if you listened to the words would break your heart. Silence, darkness, Jesus, angels. Better, I suppose, to sing than to listen.

caroling 12.jpg by riekhavoc, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  riekhavoc 

4 comments:

Loni said...

Sorry for you loss. I hope you feel better soon.

John Mutford said...

Loni: Thanks! For what it's worth, I wasn't trying for pity with this post. It was just a rather off day, an understandably off day, but nothing beyond that. Tonight we actually went to a friend's house where she did have everyone (a LOT of people) singing carols. Normally not one for singing in public, I had a wonderful evening.

Loni said...

I didn't think you were trying to get pity, I could just related to how you were feeling. Glad you had a good night.

John Mutford said...

Loni: Yeah, I know. It's just that the second I published this post, I was just feeling a little self-conscious about it, thinking, "man, that was depressing!" In any case, there's a small comfort in knowing that it's not just me that feels this way sometimes. There's also Updike and you ;)