It was a Christmas tradition that I never enjoyed and to be frank, I was quite glad when we stopped doing it entirely.
We have several Christmas traditions that we seem to do almost every year without fail. The days before Christmas are spent decorating our house and tree, baking Christmas goodies and testing our creative juices while decorating cookies with egg yoke and sugar. We always have Christmas carols or cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies playing in the background. Unrecognizable to the outside eye, our house was full of jolly and cheer. We tossed sarcasm laced with silent “I love you’s” at each other, our endless taunting telling one another we cared.
Closer to Christmas Day we would have a caroling party. Several of our friends came to our house to indulged in our Christmas goodies and hot drinks. After, we would go caroling around our neighborhood. Growing up, my sisters and I usually hid in the back of the group with our friends and let the adults do all the singing. If we were forced into the front of the crowd, we would lip sink and put on our biggest fake smile so no one could possibly be upset with us. It was no question that out of all our traditions, this was our least favorite. So it is no surprise that once it ended, we did not miss it.
What would happen next would change my whole attitude towards this year’s Christmas season.
Five caroling-free years passed by, that was until this year when my step dad spontaneously decided to start it back up again. My mother and him had recently moved and this would be their first Christmas in the neighborhood. With less than a weeks notice my parents, sister and I prepared for our party.
The events that occurred on the night of our caroling party took us all by surprise. Each house we went to we experienced something inexpressibly powerful. Several people cried with joy and told us that in the 30-something years they had lived in that neighborhood they had never had carolers come to their doorsteps. Slowly, I began to understand even more the power of music and how God can use such a simple thing to bless people. But this was not even the start of it, what would happen next would change my whole attitude toward this years Christmas season.
We were shocked at the responses we had gotten.
We knew we could not do every house down our street so we began to pick and choose. We skipped the next house in line and went to a house a little farther down because we knew the family there had just moved in. After that house we turned around to go on the other side of the street, back towards our house. As we made our way down, someone in the group spoke up and mentioned that we should go to the house we skipped. We crossed the street and gathered at the doorstep. We began singing and waited for the door to swing open. When it did, a middle aged women came out. Before we had even started the second song there were tears in her eyes. After we had finished she broke into more tears and explained to us how much of a blessing we were to her. Only a few months prior she had lost her mother; one of her mother’s favorite things to do was to carol. Our singing was a sweet reminder of her mother’s life and the way she liked to bless others. Suddenly excited, the women ran back inside and came out with an armful of teddy bears. She passed them out and asked if we would give them away to children we saw. It was her gift to us, for us to keep on giving.
Only a few houses later a door was opened by an elderly man. He told us afterwards that he was going into surgery the next morning and this was a wonderful way to end his night. We returned home for more food and drinks. Later that night my family and I reflected on the events that had happened. We were shocked at the responses we had gotten. Never before had we had tears shed by our voices like we had that night. God had so obviously used us to bless and speak to our neighbors in a way that we would never have been able to do on our own. A tradition I used to dread was now one that I had the deepest gratitude for. And the best was yet to come…