Partly as a result of last Wednesday night’s pre-Christmas breakdown, I knew that I needed a little Christmas spirit. Pamela and I decided that a Christmas Extravaganza was in order. We would begin with caroling through my neighborhood, and end with watching The Nativity Story at Pamela’s…with lots of our friends, and our many small children.
I’m so glad Pamela snapped this, even though we’re missing several in it.
I had prepared song sheets with lyrics to as many carols as I could think of, and I know that people expected me to take the lead,since a) I sing and b) I had proposed that we carol. I was truthful with everyone, in disclosing that I had never carolled and didn’t know how you really do it. Everyone thought I was kidding, so they followed my lead in the first cul-de-sac and eventually realized that I truly had no idea. For the 2nd annual Christmas Extravaganza, we’ll be much better prepared.
Once we got the hang of things, we rang a doorbell at a time, and sang for whoever showed up. One of our kids ran up to the house to give out a candy cane and (hopefully) told them Merry Christmas. We’ll know to coach them better next time. For instance, I forgot to tell Blake NOT to go into anyone’s house. You live and learn. Many families came out to listen, and one adorable family spread over their whole porch and even sang along. One woman politely stood with dishtowel in hand, too nice to tell us that she probably had a pot roast needing to come out of the oven. And some people peeked through their blinds and then pretended to not be home. The kids ran some circles around us, and my favorite parenting moment was watching Pamela deftly grab little Quinn as he whizzed by (probably being chased by Blake), her teeth clenched and yet never missing a note of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” While we were about half a mile away (more than 20 of us, including babies), it started raining. We had also encountered our least friendly homes on our route at about that time (we’d been going for well over an hour). The moment could’ve been quite a downer, but I looked around to see smiles all around. We walked back, in the rain, singing, but since we were spread out over a block along the sidewalk, it sounded like we were going in rounds.
As we got close to our cul-de-sac again, we decided to gather up and give it one last song, for no one in particular. We chose “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and everyone really sang their hearts out. A woman who lives a few houses down from me heard us and came out. She made a beeline for me and looked so earnest, I honestly thought we were in trouble. She asked, “Would you guys please come sing for my mom? I’ve been trying so hard to bring Christmas to her, but she’s homebound.” I had met her mother, and I knew that she had quit her job and remodeled her home in order to care for her. Her mom suffered from severe dementia, among other things, and I knew that caring for her was a labor of love. She led us around back, to stand just outside her mom’s (Miss Mary’s) window. We sang and sang, we were so thrilled to be there! We couldn’t tell for a while if Miss Mary was really aware of us, but she was watching, and her daughter stood by her chair, crying. At one point, I debated whether or not we should keep singing, but Emily pointedly looked at me and began “Go Tell it on the Mountain” with a vengeance. I took the hint. After another few minutes, Miss Mary raised and waved her arms as if she were directing us and she smiled! She continued smiling, and by the next song, her daughter was dabbing Miss Mary’s eyes. Miss Mary was not the only one crying. We stood there in the rain, singing as passionately as we could, and most of us had tears streaming down our faces. It was, hands down, my favorite moment of Christmas.
As we wished Miss Mary a Merry Christmas and started filing out, her daughter just kept hugging us and repeating to each of us, “This was just magic, it’s a miracle, you’ve made our Christmas, you just don’t know how much we needed this.” I heard Pamela respond, “God knows.”
Does she know that while we were making her Christmas, she was making ours?