The world. She’s a changing! With Christmas around the corner, one has childhood memories of carol singing. Growing up in sunny Madras (now called Chennai) as kids we used to sing Christmas carols, in our neighborhood.  Doesn’t matter that the nearest snow was 1000 miles away or we were not even Christians. I must admit that this was some 45 years ago but even today our Bangalore Club has an evening of Christmas Carols, slated for December 21 !

But in the US of A of 2007, caroling is no longer so hot as it would appear from an article by Maria Puente, in USA Today.” Caroling or Silent Nights? A Holiday Traiditon Vanishes” she writes.

Writes Ms. Puente: “It’s an appealing notion: Spread cheer without leaving the warmth (and the giant-screen TV) of your own home. Must be why YouTube boasts more than 300 caroling videos. But has it come to this? Except for pockets of passion, traditional, in-person neighborhood caroling is practiced by a shrinking fraction of the population.

The reasons range from the paranoid (it’s a plot by secularists against Christians) to the prosaic (most people would rather stay home and watch football). Americans are too busy or too lazy or too intimidated to sing in public. People are afraid of offending neighbors or interrupting their privacy. Neighborhoods are less close-knit.

“Maybe there’s a need for communities like this, where people who come together are longing for a Norman Rockwell kind of America,” says Sandra Aresta, one of the organizers of the annual neighborhood caroling in Chevy Chase West, in the Maryland suburbs of Washington.

But Rockwell’s America departed with Rockwell, and in any case, caroling wasn’t all that common in the USA to begin with. Polls conducted for the National Christmas Tree Association found that by 1996, only 22% of those surveyed said they planned to go caroling, and by 2005, that number had dropped to an anemic 6%.

Neighborhood caroling is so rare these days that some homeowners may be flummoxed if singers appear on their doorstep. The website eHow.com (How to Do Just About Everything) even posts instructions on How To Treat Christmas Carolers Who Come to Your Door. !

I don’t know about you, but we loved the neighborhood caroling and I, for one, miss the old world on occasions like this!