It was a word oft in evidence last night at the recording of the BBC Lincolnshire Carol Service in Boston Stump. It's a well-used word in choirs up and down the land from about mid-November. Last year, another choir I sing in (I know, I know - choral whore) recorded a selection of items defined by this word for use in the indie film Shadows of a Stranger as early as September! I never get fed up of them. I've recorded CDs of them; I've bought plenty more. Can you guess what the word is yet?
Of course you can. And that - in a small but perfectly formed little nutshell - is what Christmas means to me. Carols.
Of course, carols (like dogs) aren't just for Christmas. There are Advent carols ('tis the season for singing those at present), Easter carols, secular carols, sacred carols and mathematically-gifted Carols.
But it's the Christmas variety that I like the best. And they - and everything they say and the memories they evoke and the sentiments they express - are what Christmas means to me.