Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Caroling

Living in a small town with sidewalks made the festive activity of Christmas caroling easy. In my church choir, we strolled through the streets, singing at houses in freshly falling snow. Yes, the Charles Dickens stereotype, but much warmer clothing, I'm sure.
Hot chocolate afterwards at the church with Christmas cookies completed the evening. As a ten year old, I sat on a step of a neighbor's home drinking the sweet hot drink, but I believe that was after a sledding party. I think the same year my little plastic toboggan slammed into a dog house at the bottom of the Haywood/Chestnut Streets hill, with the wind being knocked out of me. I loved the coziness after being outside with a cup in my hands, listening to the mulling conversations. Maybe even singing some more.
Years later, the choir continued the tradition of caroling around W. Middlesex. My mom paralyzed in bed and sick couldn't come to the front door, so the choir stomped through the snow singing outside the bay window in the room with my mom's bed. She could hear them through the old glass windows. I was already married and away when this happened.
Mom loved that window. My dad place a bird feeder right on the outside. At night, Dad closed the indoor shutters. In the morning, the birds knocked on the window pane. Mom would say,"Open those shutters, the birds are anxious to see us." This became known and Mom received many sun catchers with birds to hang in this three window bay.
I tried to recapture this caroling experience with my children and the class of sixth grade girls I taught. We found many empty houses on the Saturday before Christmas in my new neighborhood. And one year, we had had clear crisp snowy weather all December, except the night of my party, the deluge of warm rain made its way, melting all that snow. We sang carols in my living room with that warm cup of cocoa, homemade.
My girls as Girl Scouts sang carols in nursing homes. The residents appreciated that, but it saddened my oldest daughter greatly. I tried to teach her it is not about us, but spreading joy to others. This year, the girls' group at church, which Katie is a sponsor, gladly participated singing to the residents at Clepper's, a skilled nursing facility.
It's not too late this year. Anyone with a willing voice up for a stroll through the rain?
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