Thursday evening, as the winds shifted to bring in biting winter air, a small party of friends assembled nearby. “Let’s go Christmas caroling!” my friends had suggested as they invited me over. I realized I had never actually done old-fashioned, door-to-door Christmas caroling. As a child, my Brownie troop had caroled at the local retirement home, but that was about the extent of it.
My friends just moved in and don’t really know their block yet, so we thought this would be a great opportunity to spread some cheer.
I dressed for the cold, swaddling myself in a big scarf, hat and mittens. We assembled song books from internet print-outs and, after letting the trio of adorable little girls bake cookies, set out down the dark block.
We quickly realized several things. First, many houses are truly vacant. I knew this is a problem in the neighborhood, but it becomes more apparent at night.
Next, a lot of people just don’t answer the door. At each house that showed some signs of life, we sent the smallest in our group – a bubbly blond five-year-old – up to ring the bell as we began singing. Most times, even if we clearly saw a tv on or other indications that someone was home, no one ever came to the door, so we’d move on after a verse. Granted, thinking about it, I don’t answer my door if I don’t recognize the knocker, especially after dark.
Third, kids really seemed to enjoy the experience, on both sides. The three kids with us delighted in singing, especially “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” which we sang as the finale every time we actually had an audience. And where people did answer the door, kids would watch with giant grins. At one house, no one answered the door, but a small girl peered at us from the upstairs window, waving and smiling. We sang a couple of songs to her and moved on.
Fourth, some people just don’t appreciate some roving carolers. At one house, a couple had just pulled up in their car… and sat in the car, paralyzed with some type of cheer-fear, until we moved along. And at our very last house – next door to our organizers – the woman opened the door, saw us, and slammed the door rather forcefully in response. Bah, Humbug!
Afterwards, while warming up with hot chocolate and cookies, I was content and merry. Next year, perhaps we’ll choose a block with some known “friendly” houses.