Sunday we started a new tradition! Our church does Christmas caroling every year and we have never participated. I expected a huge group and... it was not! Really only 5 families showed up but it ended up being a great time.
I must say I started with a really bad attitude. My husband was working and the night before we had a family Christmas party. For some reason, baby decided not to nap for the first time I can remember. She did well but I stressed all day waiting for her to lose it. We got home and got kids into bed and my oldest had to be up and ready to leave by 7:15 to go serve breakfast with his Sunday school class at a place similar to a Ronald McDonald Home. Thankfully he got a ride and I didn't need to have 5 kids ready to go that early! I let the kids sleep in as much as I could and we went only to our second service. However, little one decided to still wake at her normal 8/8:30 wake up even though she was still exhausted! We packed lunches and hats and mittens and headed off with said cranky baby knowing caroling was right in the middle of her nap time. Ergh. After church we made a pit stop at Grandma's to eat lunch and chill for about an hour. Our church is about a 20 minute drive so we didn't really have time (or gas) to head all the way home to eat. After a little play time we were off again.
The kids had no idea what they were in for. The boys were a little unsure but 5yo Hannah was sooooo excited. She was hoping we'd all hold hands and sway back and forth and sing We Wish You a Merry Christmas. I'm not sure where that came from but she was excited and burst into church saying, "This is my FIRST time Christmas caroling!" My two oldest I think became even more unsure when they realized we had to sing and they were the only ones their age. I think they were hoping to blend into the background but... there was no background! We headed off and hit 3 houses and 2 nursing homes. The couple who headed the whole thing up had some cookies and a picture some of the children did to hand out.
I didn't plan on this becoming a tradition and really I didn't plan on it being too fun! With a fussy baby who does NOT love cold or being buckled into a car seat repeatedly I was ready for a lot of complaining from her and the olders. Honestly, I'm not sure why I was so determined to do it except I just felt we should. I felt the Lord laying it heavy upon my heart that this was what we were suppose to do that day. I started a little crabby but soon got over it because they all loved it! Well, I don't know if they loved the singing part but they loved to see the smiling faces of everyone. In fact in the two hours we were out they never complained and were amazed to see the clock say 5 on our way home. They said it didn't feel that long at all. Baby complained getting in over and over again but really did quite well!
They met some interesting people and saw others from our church taking time to care about people the world often forgets. The first stop, the older lady there sang some of the carols we sang in German and told a funny story about taking care of kids when she was younger. The boys thought the German was pretty cool and we talked on our drive to the next house about why she may know that language. It was fun to imagine. We made a few stops here and there and ended at a residential home for people with disabilities. This was the kicker that really grabbed my heart and got my older children thinking. Years ago before we were at our current church, the associate pastor at the time had an adult son who was 30 I think they said. Big strong guy. He was married and a pilot. He got into a car accident and is now paralyzed. I don't know if technically he is a quadriplegic but basically unable to care for himself at all. His wife divorced him and his family moved. It sounds like his family is involved but not able to see him everyday (I could be wrong on that part. I don't know all the details of his whole family). He can move his arms some and can talk but it's hard to understand. His smile however was not hard to understand! He was beaming. After enjoying the songs he made it clear he wanted to eat a cookie NOW! It was pretty funny and then he made the comment that had us thinking and talking the whole way home. He said he prayed for us everyday. Us being the church we attend. It overwhelms me even typing it now. The tragedy in his life, the heart ache and pain you could see reflected on his outward body but his spirit was well in tact and he was praying for us! Of all the people who have the right to sit and sulk and be bitter, he is praying everyday for us. I'm sure he has had his days of course but the impact on my boys (and me) was big. It was a reminder of how delicate life is but at the same time how tough the human spirit coupled with God can be. You could see in their eyes the wheels turning as they thought about this man's life. My oldest said, "and he prays for us... huh" and shook his head in a gesture of disbelief and amazement. Caleb (10) was very quiet and just thinking for awhile in the car.
They ended up really liking it and want to do it again next year. This was about stepping out of our comfort zone and thinking about others. I love to sing but often get tongue tied when trying to come up with something to talk about with someone I don't know and my older kids are not big singers at all. But it wasn't about us and that was the point! I'm not sure we'd cut it going on our own but as long as we can find a few others to go with we will continue this tradition for sure. Hannah however asked if next year we could do it in the summer so it wouldn't be so cold! LOL! Good idea Hannie!