A tapping foot. Glistening eyes holding back tears of remembrance. A warm smile that often stretches from ear to ear. A cupped hand behind an ear to better capture sound. Moving lips that may or may not emit a sound. Gentle or enthusiastic clapping.
These are a few of my favorite things that I have experienced when Christmas caroling with my family!
My husband, John, and I went Christmas caroling with my parents before we had children. We would gather with other families in Fellowship Hall (now known as Hesson Hall!) with other families, divide into groups, and take poinsettias for each person that we were assigned to sing to.
As our family expanded, we had enough people to sing as our own group. We often visited the same persons each year until they left their earthly life. I cannot count the number of times our children would ask if so-and-so was still alive so we could return to their home for caroling.
The joy on the faces of the people we have sung to warms our hearts and is an opportunity to be “the hands and feet of Jesus” for just a few brief moments. Our singing may not be perfect, but our hearts are absolutely perfect. Seeing joyous expressions in those that we have caroled to is something that I hold close to my heart. We have sung to those that were too weak to open their eyes, but the smile on their face was a sure sign that the words were being heard, digested and received with love.
One of my favorite years of caroling occurred several years ago when it was “officially” cancelled due to snowy weather. Not to be deterred, my father drove to the church in his four-wheel drive vehicle to gather poinsettias so that the family members we could quickly gather together were able to sing to a few of our homebound friends before the weather got too bad. Though there were only about 4 of us singing, the warm reception we received at each home made getting out in the declining weather worth the effort.
Our three kids have gone caroling with us since they were born. I have watched them go from jingling bells in their tiny hands to carrying the poinsettias and lifting their adult voice in harmony with their siblings. What a treasure of memories that caroling has given to our family. It has been a gift and a blessing to have the opportunity to give to others. Caroling with my parents, husband, and children is without a doubt my favorite thing during the Christmas season.
As I have gotten older, I have realized more often that the best things in life are often without a price tag. My favorite things are more about the joy and blessings I receive when I can give something to someone else. I think the Grinch got it right when he said, “It came without ribbons, it came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. Maybe Christmas (he thought) doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.”
Dear God, help us to remember during this season of love that just as you gave us the gift of your son, Jesus, the true gifts celebrating Christmas cannot be bought. Help us to find joy and happiness in the gifts that cannot be bought. Amen.
by Ann Harper
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) butter
1 & 1/2 c. sugar
3 tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. evaporated milk
1 unbaked pie shell
Melt butter in saucepan. Add sugar and cocoa; stir well. Add eggs and mix well (do not beat). Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour mixture into unbaked pie shell and bake at 400º for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350º and continue baking 20-25 minutes or until set and pie crust is brown.