Christmas caroling was a tradition for my family. Our church has been going caroling for as long as I remember. We would gather into a parade of cars and drive from house to house then on to sing for residents in nursing homes and the Iowa Veterans Home. It was a tradition that continues at Bethel Grove every year without me.
Often a friend would ride along with us because it was so much fun spending time together. Daddy often led the singing with his powerful voice. For a time we had books of Christmas carols to sing from. Daddy had a tendency to lead with the same song and he would get stuck with a few carols that we used over and over again. The carolers would give him a hard time occasionally. Sometimes he would start a song too high or too low for anyone to be able to sing and everyone laughed. When my boys were little they too joined in the caroling, riding along with grandpa.
There were some very cold days and a few pretty snowy ones too.We always warmed up in the nursing homes and IVH as we walked the halls singing with joy in our hearts. We had to shed our heavy coats and scarves because it was so toasty.
The best part of caroling was seeing the joy it brought to those we caroled for. Often there were tears. Almost always there were smiles too. The residents loved to see the children and sometimes they would sing along. We chose locations where members lived and they were thrilled to see familiar faces.
The day came when Mama and Daddy could no longer go along but instead became one of the locations being caroled to. When she was able, Mama would serve cookies and juice to the carolers who arrived in a school bus to sing to them. The daughters continued that for a few years when it became too big of chore for her. I remember how touched Mama and Daddy were by the special visit that filled their house with music.
For the first few years it was too hard to go caroling without my parents who had been such a mainstay of the tradition. Now I've gotten into the habit of not going, mainly because I have a terrible voice these days. Thankfully there are many who continue the tradition and bless those who are now shut-in.
"It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp" (Psalm 92:1-3 NIV).