Updating the article: the group caroling idea (after the jump) didn’t work out that year. But I did record my own carol, which you can hear here:
Those of you who know me know I love to sing at Christmas, but not everyone knows why. As a kid I could relate well to the Little Drummer Boy. Our neighborhood had a tradition of giving each other gifts as Christmas approached. And I remember several years where some unknown neighbors sent all sorts of goodies – oranges, turkey, clothes, and even toys for the youngest children.
Being large family on an educators income, we didn’t have much to give back. But we could sing together, so sing we did, to as many neighbors as we could reach every year. Whether we were really that good or not is questionable; it seems we were always goofing up one song or another, and my mom was infamous for starting out songs on the wrong note. Her beautiful voice more than made up for any mistakes, but a crowd of snickering kids couldn’t have helped. Still, the neighbors always graciously accepted our gift and would say things like, “You sound just like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir!” or “Are you sure you’re not the von Trapp family?” They were being nice. But it seems some older neighbors so loved our tradition, that their families would call us years later saying they’d requested, if possible, that the Harper Family sing at their funeral.
Admittedly, it wasn’t always fun trudging through snow for what seemed like hours on end. Sometimes we even wore bags on our feet to keep the snow out of worn shoes… which was more than a little embarrassing. (Between that and the strange but creative variation on rag curlers my mom came up with, “bread bags” was one of my many names at school. Good Times!) But we’d always thaw ourselves afterward over homemade hot cocoa and biscuits, and invariably our hearts were warmed as well by a few people who seemed to need the caroling that year.
Well, this year I’m the one who ‘needs’ to carol. Between stress and mild but annoyingly long-lasting under-the-weatherness, I’ve had a hard time catching the Christmas Spirit. So here’s my little carol for you.
That was so beautiful!!! And one of my favorite songs. What a treat. I haven’t heard it in forever. Your story brought back memories. My family was not in the same situation as yours, but we, too, went out with bags over our boots since they were prone to leak. I had forgotten until your story niggled that memory. What a beautiful gift for your neighbors.
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