As we approach Christmas, I must admit I’m having a bit of trouble getting into the holiday spirit. Maybe it’s that I’m struggling to finish up the quarter for grad school or that it’s been unseasonably warm here in Boston without a hint of snow. I’m not entirely sure what my issue is, just that I’m having some difficulty being jolly during what is normally my favorite time of the year. But I may have found something to help. Because for one week, students from Snyder Hall at the University of Illinois are hosting their annual Dial-a-Carol program. And it’s exactly what it sounds like – you can call a number and have some random college student sing a Christmas carol to you.
The program is actually more than 55 years old. It started when a woman named Betty Gorden, the residence hall’s secretary at the time, “convinced the residents in the then-all-male dorm to sing and play carols for random callers around the holidays,” according to The Washington Post. Now, all this time later, most of the students living in the dorm (which is now co-ed) participate in the annual tradition, answering the phone when teachers from elementary school classrooms call with song requests from their students or just some random rings needing to hear “Jingle Bell Rock.”
In case you are asking, “who the hell would actually call someone to get someone to sing a carol to them?”, the answer is a lot of people: within the first fourteen hours of the phone line opening on Thursday, over 1,000 calls have come in, from all 50 states, plus Australia, China, South Korea, Sweden and Taiwan.
The students, who participate regardless of religion or singing ability, also have some fun with the program. When asked on their Facebook page what song they really want to sing, the response was demonstrated their silliness, “While we would love to see the Mariah Meter break [this was created a few years ago to count the number of times people requested “All I Want For Christmas is You] and Jingle Bells typically is the most request song each year… I (as the replying member of the Dial-a-Carol team) would love to be able to sing “What’s This?” from the Nightmare Before Christmas. My colleague, who is next to me right now as I am replying, is begging to sing “Mistletoe” by Justin Bieber.
As someone I need of a little holiday spirit who is currently experiencing a resurgence of Bieber-fever, I’m pretty sure I can make that guy’s dream come true. And get myself a smile in the process.
The Dial-A-Carol line is open until 11:59 p.m., Dec. 16; you can give them a call at (217) 332-1882. .
[via The Washington Post]
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