I knew when I moved to Kennebunkport full-time that I would be seeing the tourist town from a different angle. What I did not realize was that catering to droves of finicky outta-towners is hard work. Work that after two full days of the town's famous (HGTV-recognized) Christmas Prelude Weekend left me tired, achy, and ready to say "Bah, humbug!"
That is, until my parents invited me to join them at the annual Candlelight Caroling held at the Franciscan Monastery. Memories of Prelude Weekends past, full of hot chocolate and holiday shopping, motivated me to wash off the workday, and head back downtown.
Kennebunk High School students greeted us at the monastery entrance with song sheets, candles, and even cups of chestnuts, visible literally roasting on an open fire. From there we approached the outside altar, already full of community members on horns and percussion, as well as two friars with guitars.
The early-evening snow flurries turned to a wet wintry mix, but the weather did not deter the crowd. Someone discovered that poking a hole in the bottom of the chestnut cup created a convenient candle shield, and the lawn was soon glowing with makeshift lanterns . . . as well as the occasional iPhone "candle" application.
The cold had set in by the time caroling started, and the friars, clad in fingerless gloves, did not shy from requesting a prayer for their frozen fingers. Due to several soaked song booklets, a lot of humming was heard in lieu of lyrics to lesser-known verses. But the crowd favorite, "Let There Be Peace on Earth," was a rousing finale with full participation . . . and a lot of spirited swaying.
Christmas carols tend to get a bad rap, and radio stations that start playing 24-hour sounds of the season before Thanksgiving hits do nothing to help the cause. But seeing hundreds of people bundled against the cold, soaking wet, holding song booklets that looked more like spit balls, and still smiling, was just the testament I needed to reinstate my holiday glow. For a girl with no god, music is just as important a part of this season as any.