One such time was during one of my two Christmases spent in snowy Minnesota. I was newly married to my Minnesotan husband and we had found a church we loved. They had a caroling night that we decided to attend. The difference between caroling with my youth group in Arizona where I'd grown up and in Minnesota in 1991 was about sixty degrees. In Minnesota, we bundled up with coats, scarves, hats, and mittens and piled into cars that puffed white smoke out their tailpipes, with heaters running full blast. I loved it because it was so different than what I was used to. When we finished making our rounds of caroling, we finished off at the church with hot apple cider, coffee, tea, and homemade pie. I'll never forget the warm feeling I had inside even though it was below zero outside.
The next year we moved back to sunny Arizona and have lived here ever since. That was over twenty years ago. As the years passed, my parents became the recipients of our church Christmas caroling and it wasn't just a youth group activity anymore. I loved seeing the joy on their faces when they opened the door and my dad would invariably join in the singing in his booming bass voice.
Ten years ago last August, Parkinson's disease took my dad and that year we celebrated our first Christmas without him. We still went caroling at Mom's, and when she opened up the door and stood there alone listening to our carols, fresh grief washed over me. I had forgotten Dad wouldn't be there and Mom looked so tiny there without Dad by her side.
Another year, when my children were young, our church didn't have a caroling night. Our family missed it, so we decided to go caroling on our own. We only went to a few good friends' houses, but it was still fun and I know they appreciated it.
Sometimes it's hard to squeeze Christmas caroling into an already busy holiday schedule. But it is a classic Christmas tradition that brings joy to people. It's an unexpected surprise that makes them feel loved. I'm hoping we can fit it in this year, even if it's just a small group.
Will you Christmas carol this year? Have you been the recipient of carolers?