Carol singing: You can still raise a few bob if there are only two of you and it’s lashing rain. Well, we did!

Carol singers at the Rockefeller centre in New York. We had about 200 fewer

Well it’s going to be a different Christmas isn’t it?

Looks like I won’t get to do one of my favourite Christmassy things which is to stand on Grafton Street on Christmas Eve looking as smug as I can as last minute shoppers, panic all over their faces, rush from shop to shop looking for presents they should have bought weeks ago.

There’ll be no having a few jars with friends in a packed pub and no giving out yards about the Twelve Pubs of Christmas eejits.

There’ll be no kids excitedly queuing to see Santa. They’ll just have to keep an ear out on Christmas Eve.

I almost saw him once, or at least, I thought I did.

I was about six or seven and we were just getting into the car at about 7.45 am to go to Mass.

When all of a sudden, my father said: “Did you see him? Did you see him? You can hear the bells of his sleigh!!”

And indeed you could. I could hear the bells distinctly. 

My father pointed but by the time I turned around, Santa was gone.

It was years later when I picked up my dad’s keys and heard the rattle they made that it dawned on me. 

That’s what he had done that Christmas morning.

And sure anyway, Santa doesn’t hang around until the morning, he would have been well gone by then.

Another thing we won’t see much of is carol singers.

And that reminds me of another incident from years ago.

I was in the scouts and in the weeks coming up to Christmas, we used to go around our area of south Dublin carol singing and fund raising.

Some of the lads would belt out a few carols and the rest would go knocking on doors.

Anyway, this particular night it was lashing rain and windy and only two of us, me and a guy called Terry turned up.

“Ah, sure there’s no point in two of us doing it. I’ll see you tomorrow,” I said.

“No,” said Terry. “I have a plan.”

So off we went.

And we knocked on doors and asked for money for the carol singers.

Invariably, we’d be told “I can’t hear them.”

“It’s the wind,” Terry would say, “they’re just around the corner.”

And do you know what?

We collected as much if not more money that night compared with all the other nights when there were 20 of us on the job.

And early example of downsizing you might say.

Or just an example of living up to the scout motto: Be Prepared!

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