There are certain things in the Christmas tradition that have been tossed to the wayside over the years. More and more certain staples of the holiday season get put aside like old decorations, and a few new ones are added.
For those of you who think that Christmas caroling is on that list of endangered holiday species, rest assured that there are still a few local events keeping one of the most cherished Christmas past times alive.
The Absecon Lighthouse is one of the oldest lighthouses in the country and the tallest one that can be found on our shoreline. You may think that once the summer is over, the lure to this great building would be lost, but the holidays can be one of the most beautiful times of year to get a little historical background.
On Saturday, Dec. 10, a full moon lit up the lighthouse of Absecon perfectly for a brisk winter night. Families filled the lighthouse where they were treated to wine, pizza and soda as they explored the beautiful exhibits.
Once the guests had time to mill around, the professional caroling group, "Holiday Cheer," sent four of their carolers to the lighthouse to lead those in attendance in song.
In a section of the rebuilt keeper's house, lovingly referred to as "the living room," the carolers set up in front of the Christmas tree as the guests gathered comfortably in chairs set up around them.
Dressed exactly how you would expect professional carolers to be dressed, the room was filled immediately with the nostalgia that can only come from memories of gathering around the tree with your own family. Not only did the Holiday Cheer group encourage the guests to shake their keys like jingle bells and sing along to songs picked out by the group, guests were also allowed to make requests of their own as they sang proudly along.
Says Stephanie Carr, the Absecon Lighthouse Director of Education, "In addition to caroling, the tower was open for the guests to climb when the carolers were between breaks. Everything on the grounds was open and available for guests to explore."
When asked how she though the night went, Stephanie replied, "It was great! It was really well attended and everyone seemed to enjoy the Christmas cookies and the pizza. Not to mention a lot of our volunteers came out, so that was great."
Although the number of caroling purists may be dwindling and people may not go door to door with songbooks and candles, there are still people spreading the Christmas joy in other forms.
The Christmas Candlelight Tour, put together by the Cape May Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts, is a great place to get your share of holiday cheer. The self guided tours through the historical Victorian homes and churches offer heated trollies, where you will be greeted by the familiar sounds of the holidays. Groups will lead the trolley riders in song as they make their way down the streets of Cape May to their next destination. This is a great way to stay warm while getting the family together to sing all of your favorite Christmas songs.
When asked what made this form of caroling so unique, Susan Krysiak of the Cape May Mid-Atlantic Center for the arts said, "People love the trolley rides. The trolleys are heated, so if it is a little too much outside, you can get on and get out of the cold, all while singing your favorite Christmas songs."
The Christmas Candlelight House Tour's price of admission is $20 for children aged three to twelve and $25 dollars for adults and takes place from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 17. Tickets are available now, but they do sell out. Be sure to reserve your spot on the heated trolley and be ready sing a few classics when you get there.
While you may not be leaving your lights on for school kids to come to your house and sing on your front porch anymore, there are still groups and events that make it possible for you to keep holding on to one of the most important Christmas staples. Although the carolers may have already made their tour for the lighthouse, it is something to keep in mind for next Christmas.