|I collect carolers and found these on eBay last year. Love them!|
Friday night I invited students from my kids' high school choir classes to come over for a night of caroling, hot apple cider, treats, and games. We had great time. My neighborhood has a lot of elderly and the group of carolers managed to bring three people to tears by their simple songs. There was no rehearsing, the caroling was spontaneous, with a dose of goofiness thrown in for good measure.
Isaiah 40: 11
One elderly woman was very surprised at our visit and you could tell that she didn't quite know what to do. She had her television on. She asked us to wait while she turned off the television, apologizing that the television keeps her company because she's alone. From behind her screen door, she looked out among our group and noticed a student wearing a NY Yankees baseball cap. She opened the door and told us the NY Yankees was her husband's favorite team. Then she disclosed to us that he had been gone for four years. She had a smile on her face as she reminisced about her lost husband. She had originally come to the door with a sort of displeased expression - it was a bit late for her, maybe she wondered who was going to try to sell her something on a Friday night. But when she saw the kids showing kindness and love, the expression on her face changed. As she spoke to me, she opened up, wanting to share what was going on in her life.
Psalm 24: 7 - 10
We walked two doors down to the house of an elderly widower. My kids and I rarely see him outside during the year, but I vividly remembered his response last year when we caroled at his house. The house was dark and it took him quite a while to get the lights on. He apologized profusely for having it so dark - - he didn't want anyone to get hurt on the walkway and said he wasn't expecting company. He wanted to give us something, something to eat, but we told him we weren't there to get anything - that we just wanted to sing for him. I remember his tears last year. This year, as I reached my hand out to him and reminded him again that I am his neighbor from "down the block and over there, the house with all the boys," he hung on to my hand and then my finger as I walked away. He had a smile on his face. We were probably the only visitors he's had in a long time.
Further down the road, we surprised a woman maybe in her 50s. She lives in a very nice home. She smiled as the kids sang their carol. After the song, she asked what school the kids were from. They told her they were from the "other" school in the district (meaning they weren't from the high school down the block). She asked why they were caroling. The kids told her they were simply caroling because they wanted to share their singing with others. There was a shocked look on her face. I think she may have thought we were expecting a donation, and when the kids responded, she let out a gasp, uttered some words I could not hear, touched her hand to her heart and expressed a very heart-felt thanks. I could see the tears in her eyes: she got a gift from strangers with nothing expected in return.
1 Corinthians 15: 51, 52
1 Corinthians 15: 54
That is how I have felt this past year. I got a gift from strangers with nothing expected in return. Most of you were strangers to me when I shared my story. Yet, you came, you connected with me, you prayed for me, you shared yourselves with me. I am blessed by having you in my life. Some think of online relationships as "not real". I can tell you that I have cried many, many times by the words of yours which have touched me, some in sadness, some in joy. You all are very real to me. You come to mind when I am at the grocery store, when I'm driving my daughter to her volleyball games. I thank you for the gift of relationship, for reaching out to me. I am a different person today than I was nine months ago because of the friendships I have made here.
Thank you, friends. Merry Christmas, everyone!
And for those of you who might be alone emotionally or spiritually because of circumstances or abuse, my heart aches for you and I am praying especially for you.
Revelation 5: 12, 13
Update: Just after I posted this, I checked on Facebook and one of my friends posted this as her Facebook status:
Flash Mob Caroling at Clackamas Town Center. Brought me to tears…
(Clackamas Town Center was the location of the recent mall shooting in which two people were killed. How cool is that?!)