What I most enjoyed this Christmas

We went carolling twice this Christmas.

Our ladies at church put together several goody baskets to deliver to our shut-ins. And we sang songs for them when we delivered the baskets. That was the first time in a long time that my children have been carolling. I knew the girls would enjoy it. Abbey said when we were finished, “I love singing and making people happy.” I wasn’t sure how much my boys would enjoy it, but they surprised me. They wanted to keep going and they felt bad about not stopping in every single room at the nursing home.  So many lie in their beds, forgotten and alone; it was so special to them for us to take a moment to sing and give a squeeze on the arm or a hug.

We went carolling again last Wednesday in my MIL’s neighborhood. As many of our extended family that could gathered at her house for a family meal and fellowship time; I think the final count came to 39 people. After we finished eating, a group of us went out to carol through the neighborhood. It was the first time I had been carolling outside of it being a church function. We were just doing it because (1) my MIL wanted us to, and (2) it would be fun (Karl’s family loves to sing together). I’m guessing we stopped at anywhere from 15 to 20 houses and sang two or three songs at each house. It was a choral explosion (but without the cheesy dancing).  Here’s a picture of most of us from our Thanksgiving…

A few observations:

  • People connect through music.  And I think (at this point in time) there is a resurgence in appreciation for a capella singing.  As evidence, just consider the many youtube videos of singing groups and individuals that are forwarded all over these interwebs and the popularity of shows like Glee and movies like Mama Mia.  The people we visited Wednesday evening were obviously gladdened to see a group had come right up to their doorstep to sing to them.  When we finished, my MIL went up to the door to explain that she was their neighbor and to deliver a personal, “Merry Christmas.”
  • Upon learning that we were all part of the same family come to sing carols, the person (or family) expressed even greater appreciation and awe.  We really do create a beautiful sound when we sing together (traffic stopped to listen).  But the surprise at finding that “my neighbor can sing” made me think about the popularity of programs like American Idol, X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent.  I think there is something about “discovering” that a “regular” person can sing well that makes people happy.
  • Social media reared its head.  Not only did a few of our family members update their statuses whilst carolling, but at two homes the residents pulled out their cell phones and cameras to take pictures and record us.  Perhaps the pictures will become part of their family album, but one of our aunts did ask about getting properly tagged in facebook.
  • Children LOVE carollers.  Some adults hesitated to open their doors, but the kids who made it to the doors first swung them wide.
  • It’s fun when the home owner sings along.
  • Some adults became a little emotional while we sang to them.  I’ve always been a sympathy crier, so I had to stop singing and get control of my own emotions when I noticed someone else crying.  I’m tearing up now just thinking about those people.  It was all I could do to keep from invading their personal space to find out why they were crying, how they were doing this Christmas, and just giving hugs.  I know it would have been really weird for the other person, but I felt the need to give hugs before we left each house.

Which reminds of something else I enjoy about the holidays: hugs.  Wednesday night alone I gave and received close to 70 hugs.  If there were 39 people at MIL’s house, subtract 6 for myself and my immediate family, leaving 33, multiplied by 2 for hugs and kisses upon arrival and departure, then I gave and received 66 hugs.  But I can add my immediate family back because I gave hugs and kisses at bedtime….so, at least 71 hugs and kisses in one day.

Physical touch and beautiful music are so important for our emotional health.

You may not want to serenade anyone today, but you can give someone a hug.

And not that stupid Christian side hug.  Give a real hug.

Because you need a real hug.

9 Comments on “What I most enjoyed this Christmas

  1. And not that stupid Christian side hug. Give a real hug.

    I’ve been noticing this side hug thing. When did that start? I suppose it had the advantage of getting non-huggers to do some sort of hug and making men and women who are not married to each other more comfy with hugging each other, but it makes me sad that it’s eliminated a lot of real hugging.

    When I was a kid we carolled a lot. We actually drove through the snow in the northwoods of Minnesota to the homes of people who lived miles from anyone else. I miss it and I’m glad you are carrying on the carolling tradition.

    This year my church choir carolled at the nursing home on the night of their annual Christmas family dinner. Many of the residents sang along lustily. It was great!


    • I’m not sure when the side hug started, but it’s become immensely popular since Jon Acuff started blogging about it.

      Do you have any old photos from when you carolled in the snow? We thought we might have some snow this Christmas, but it snowed everywhere EXCEPT the southeastern US.


  2. Sunday evening a week ago, a group from our church went caroling to several of our shut ins. There hasn’t been a large group in the past to go caroling, but this year we probably had over 50 people go! We actually sent the youth in one direction and the adults went in another since we had so many!

    BTW, how did your visit with your mother go on Saturday. I read your email Saturday morning and I prayed for you while I rocked my little one for her morning nap.


    • It went well, I thought. She looked like she was feeling well. I asked her to keep her phone on more often so that I could get in touch with her. She said she would.


  3. This comment is not only for this post but for all you’ve written this last week. Christmas was a mixed bag for me this year, and in an effort to not slide into the slough of despond, your posts have reminded me to look at the manger through the filter of the Cross. Thank you.


  4. Your side hug comment made me smile. We went to my husband’s school reunion yesterday (small Christian school) and I was greeted by one of his female classmates with one of the most full frontal hugs I have had in a long time. I must say it took me by surprised but it was very sweet and I appreciated it. You are right. I needed that hug.

    What a blessing your caroling was….to those who sang and to those who listened.


  5. we caroled at a homeless center last night and it was a joy! Makes me wish Christmas wasn’t over so we could go out again!!

    Word Publisher puts out a nice caroling book for a buck fifty that’s great. I’m going to order a dozen and have them on hand for next year!


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