Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Here We Come A-Caroling!

When I was growing up, most of my fondest memories have one thing in common- singing. I was in choir in school and at church. I remember the holidays being a big deal- going to sing in a mall or putting together a Christmas program. I remember all of the Christmas carols. I loved the tradition of these old hymns that survive year after year. To this day, traditional Christmas hymns are my favorite Christmas music. I don't think I've ever gone caroling. I think the idea was always a bit old fashioned in my mind- something people just didn't do anymore. I don't remember anyone ever coming to our door to sing us a song. I don't remember ever being part of a group that went strolling through a neighborhood with songs on our lips. But I've always wanted to. A friend of mine, Tim, was part of a Victorian caroling group. They were amazing. And they were professional carolers. They were hired in small groups to carol at parties or holiday functions. They dressed in Victorian costumes and sang gorgeous arrangements of traditional Christmas songs acappela. I was able to see him sing with the group a few times and just loved it. Would have been happy to sit and listen for hours. Would have been happier to have been part of something like that. A couple of weeks ago, word went out at church that a group would be getting together to sing Christmas carols at a local nursing home during their dinner hour. I was bummed because it was the Saturday that I would be in Cincinnati. Then this past Saturday happened. And I wanted to take the bad day and make it good- so I put the caroling opportunity on the list. And am so glad that I did. We all went. Me, Jeff, and the kids. We met up at church and caravaned to the nursing home. It wasn't a huge group but we were a good size. And it was all people that we knew. Even though I hadn't been able to go home, I was still with family. We gathered in the small dining room. The woman who had organized the event asked Ashli and I to lead our songs since we're on music team. And we sang. And we smiled. And we laughed. After we sang, Teagan and I walked around the dining room. We stopped at each table and I held hands and wished holiday greetings and thanked those who sang with us and talked about music with some of the residents. Teagan reached out and shook some hands and smiled and answered questions- she was shy but delightful. We went back to church and enjoyed a chili supper. There were about 5 or 6 folding tables, end to end, full of people we love and who love us. Jeff smiled and laughed and chatted. There was hugging and excitement and joy. Some of us want to form a group and go back in a couple of months to sing some old tunes, standards, Rat Pack classics... All of these ideas are swirling around. I hope we stick to our commitment. It meant so much to the residents there. There was a woman who stood to the side and smiled and sang along to every song. There was a gentleman who sang loudly and off key and had a hard time remembering the words- but who loved the entire thing. There was a woman who told me that we had encouraged her to keep singing. I held tissue paper thin skinned hands, with veins showing through, looking into watery eyes... I connected to wisdom with song and I don't want that to end. It meant so much to my family. I thought Jeff was just going along to make me happy, to help me feel better after that hard morning. But I think he actually had fun. He could have sat out and used Zach as his excuse. But he stood with the group and sang every song. He smiled at dinner and joked and laughed with people around us. Teagan connected with people who paved roads ahead of her. Teagan was polite and sweet and tender. Zach was silly and goofy but stayed with the group and the residents enjoyed watching him and his big grin. Yet another way that singing is an important part of my life. An important part of my life in my church family. An important part of my kids' upbringing. And yet another new tradition is born. Photobucket


Mellodee said...

I've done a bunch of caroling over the years at various homes and hospitals. One year some friends who were all in choir decided to carol at a nursing home nearby. It was hard finding a date when something wasn't already happening for Christmas. We finally got a date and time and it was great. While we were trying to find a good date, the woman from the center laughingly suggested March. It seems they were only all booked up at Christmas time, the rest of the year was wide open.

A smaller group of us put together a program of "oldies" and went back to sing twice that year in April (in honor of spring) and in July (patriotic). We were a huge hit! I would have continued but I was moving out of state.

Everybody thinks of singing at Christmas, but the rest of the year is up for grabs. Just something to consider.

michelle said...

When I was a kid our church youth group and choir would go caroling every holiday season. It was almost just like the movies. Good times.

Now we live in Pete Seeger's town and he leads a caroling session every December. So cool.

Garret of Jim and Garret said...

What? No photos?

Karen Peterson said...

I always thought caroling to people's houses was kind of weird, but to a nursing home is awesome. I should do that.

So glad you had a nice time!

Katherine said...

We used to go caroling- old-fashioned-door-to-door caroling- when I was a kid. My sister still does, with a group of friends. I just can't bring myself to do it anymore, but it was fun at the time.

Amy said...

As someone who loves someone in a nursing home, thank you. I'm glad you felt blessed by the experience.