I think there's hardly anything cozier than singing carols together in a group around a lit Christmas tree. And so, we do, to practice. And then we hit the streets.
I have taken my children caroling for many years, and it's a tradition we look forward to each December. Practices take place on Monday nights as part of family home evening, but at this point we don't really need the practice. We go out after dark and canvas the neighborhood singing our hearts out to unexpecting friends and strangers alike, and the experience is one that everyone should have.
When Adam and I first married, and I wanted to carry on the caroling tradition with our new, blended family, he balked a bit at the idea. Well, a lot. He was a downright Scrooge, and I worried that his blatant bad attitude would spoil the evening for the children. Fortunately, the Christmas Spirit intervened with the knock at our very first door. We knocked and began singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing", and a white-haired old man opened the door. I could tell he wasn't expecting visitors, and he didn't want to be disturbed, but almost instantaneously upon hearing singing on his porch, and seeing a family (and not a salesman), his wrinkled face melted and the corners of his smile reached up to catch the tears that soon began winding their way down his aged face. He wanted more and more, and we gave it to him. He lamented that he wished he had known we were coming so he could have had hot chocolate ready for us, that we might come in and visit. He was lonely, and we had been Christmas angels. And his eyes weren't the only wet ones.
Dear Adam caught the spirit, and led the way from there. He had been changed, softened too. He's now a caroling convert.
We walk the neighborhoods for an hour or two each season now, and love the joy we see on the faces of the strangers who answer their doors to us. The children receive an instant gratification for their service. They know it makes a difference.
We have had people open their doors to us, and then turn and call the rest of their families to come and listen. We've had whole groups gather out on the porch to get a view. We often receive gifts from those we sing to. People are so happy, and so touched, that they want to do something, and they disappear into their kitchens, returning with cookies, chocolates, gifts, even a few dollars. We always try to refuse, but then again, they received our gift with gratitude.
It always makes for a wonderful evening that the entire family anticipates. Maybe caroling is a forgotten activity. Maybe people have become too shut in, too closed up, too involved in their own little circle. Maybe people have become too scared of people they don't know, too affected by the news reports, and too nervous of knocking on a stranger's door, but every Christmas we hope to sing a carol or two and give our brothers and sisters a little cheer, and a little more belief in the basic goodness of people, especially at Christmas time. After all, a song is a powerful tool, and a universal language.