One of my favorite Christmas traditions is Christmas caroling in our neighborhood. I have good memories of the many times we’ve shared the gift of song with our unsuspecting neighbors. Since caroling has become an annual tradition we have the method down to a science. This is our usual routine:
First, we ring the doorbell and as soon as we hear movement inside, we start singing. When the neighbors open their doors they are handed a plate of cookies (wrapped up with a pretty ribbon and bow). Finally, when the the song is finished we say, “Merry Christmas!” and walk away singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
Most people are happy for the visit and offer us goodies—chocolate, warm cookies and even an invitation to sit in front of a blazing fire.
This year I went caroling with a large group of friends. There are many talented singers in the group, so with the harmony and strong voices, we sounded really good. We even decided to do a flash mob at the local grocery store. We all started in different aisles and then joined each other around the cashiers, singing for the whole store to hear. The manager even came down and thanked us.
Later, we came up to a house full of people who were already singing Christmas carols. We thought it would be fun to ring the doorbell and sing along with them. Our large group was invited into a house that was already very crowded. The neighborhood was alive with the spirit of giving.
I remember one year we went to a house with three lighted snowmen, a waving Santa, and a family of bobbing polar bears. A young woman answered the door. She was on the phone and noticeably upset.
We sang “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.” She didn’t hang up the phone, but gazed at us. I remember trying to smile my brightest, as I saw tears streaking her face. When we finished singing, she asked, “What charity are you from?”
We told her that we aren’t raising money, but just family and friends out caroling together. Tears fill her eyes again as she thanked us: “You don’t know what this means to me.”
When we walked away, I wondered about that phone conversation—a reminder that Christmas is a lonely time for many.
One of the last houses we visited that year, was the home of a family who was grieving the loss of a loved one. A young boy answered the door, and together we sang the words to my favorite Christmas carol, “Angels We Have Heard on High.”
I remember the bright-eyed boy and his mom resting her hands on his shoulders. I think about the struggle of a first Christmas without a husband and a dad.
I sing about the Babe asleep on the hay, the One whom Isaiah called “Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), and I pray that my heartfelt song will bring a glimmer of that Gift to their Christmas this year.
May the peace of Christ be with you this Christmas season.