A Few Charms (Banner)

A Few Charms (Banner)

Friday, 13 January 2017

When Christmas carolling "means a little bit more"

Have you ever thrown a wish out into the universe and then been surprised at how it came true?

I'd been saying for years that I want to go Christmas carolling but never seemed to get it organized - and of course beating myself up about it, aka "shoulding" all over myself. But I bought the carollers charm last year and put it on my Christmas bracelet this year, and, low and behold, my wish came true. But not at all in the way that I expected it to.

Now let me digress, or more accurately, start out, with one of my favourite stories about my husband's family, the Haydens. When Mike and I first started dating, and then living together, we would go "home" to Nova Scotia (our home province on the east coast of Canada) at Christmas. At that time, Mike's grandparents were still living but my mother-in-law Dede's parents needed to move to a nursing home. When clearing out her parents' apartment, Dede found out that her father, who had lived through the Depression, never threw anything out and had a huge collection of paperclips, of all things. The good thing about this (besides the plethora of paperclips) was that he kept old correspondence.

When the Hayden kids were young (Mike's the oldest of four), they would make audiotapes to send to the grandparents who spent their winters in Florida. I happened to be there when they found these tapes in grandfather Ray's desk. There were some great stories that came from listening to those tapes, but something on one tape, clearly made at Christmas, is a story we still repeat.

Mike's dad Dick played the guitar. So the family sat down to sing songs for this audio tape. And they started with "Frosty the Snowman." And it went something like this: "Frosty the Snowman, na na na na na na na..." The voices faded away but Dick kept playing. Let's just say it became an "instrumental" version of Frosty. We laughed so hard when we heard it!

OK back to planning the carolling. I thought we should ask people in the neighbourhood or the kids' friends if they would be interested. But when would we schedule it? Because of course lots of people have so many parties and commitments in the weeks leading up to the big day. Oh dear, we'd need to clean the house because we would have to invite people over to our house afterwards. Of course we'd offer hot chocolate and cookies. I'd need to buy hot chocolate because no one in our family really likes it. And we would need mini marshmallows because they look so cute floating on top of hot chocolate. Hmm the cookies were going to be another problem. In the rush leading up to Christmas I never seem to get baking done so where would I squeeze that it? There was also my concern that nobody would remember the second verse of "Jingle Bells" or the first line of Frosty (see how I made that connection there?). Therefore I'd need to print the lyrics to a number of favourite carols so everyone had a copy. You can see why this never happened! I was over-thinking it.

And then a friend invited me to an event on Facebook. To go carolling. In our neighbourhood.

My neighbourhood friend, who was there for me when my mother died, lost her husband suddenly when her two girls were eight and five years old. Now her girls are teenagers and their mom has cancer.

This friend has always been involved in our community of Hintonburg, particularly in the Arts community. So when the owner of a local store, that sells the work of local artists, heard the news about the cancer they wanted to help, particularly at Christmas. And so did my daughter Taylor and I.

Group selfie of the carollers; this was taken just before we went into the Hintonburg Public House.
Taylor is in the back with the Santa hat and I'm the hatless one just behind her.

To bring Christmas cheer to our neighbourhood, and raise money for our friend and her two daughters, Maker House organized what they called "Community Carolling." There was no hot chocolate but there was mulled cider. And there were marshmallows, but the big kind, dipped in chocolate and crushed candy cane! They even made up little packages with pretzels dipped in chocolate and sprinkles. They gave out little ribbons with jingle bells on them. And they printed up booklets with lyrics - including Frosty! (Taylor, by the way, was very excited to find out that she could keep the songbook afterwards.)

Carolling in the Hintonburg Public House.
(that's Taylor in the Santa hat)

I recently read the book The Tao of Pooh, and learned that sometimes we have to not try so hard! "Tao doesn't force or interfere with things, but let's them work in their own way, to produce results naturally. Then whatever needs to be done is done." The book further explained, "Things just happen in the right way, at the right time. At least they do when you let them, when you work with circumstances instead of saying, 'This isn't supposed to be happening this way,' and trying hard to make it happen in another way."

So now, on my "A Victorian Christmas" bracelet, I have this little charm, with two carollers dressed warmly for this winter activity, and holding a songbook - hopefully with lyrics for Frosty. But now this charm isn't just about singing Christmas carols, or making it a perfect social event. As Scrooge learned in A Christmas Carol, the Christmas "spirit" is about family and community, and hope and generosity. "Perhaps," to quote The Grinch and Dr. Seuss, this Christmas charm now "means a little bit more."

Mike gave me this book for Christmas after I mentioned I'd never read it before.
"A Christmas Carol: the original manuscript edition."

As we walked home after carolling, Taylor said, "That was fun! That was my first time carolling." And so this year, Taylor's Christmas ornament was a snowman in a choir ruff, to represent not just her performances with her school vocal class, and being asked to join the Chamber Choir this year, but also so she can remember her first time carolling.

(Mitchell's ornament, in case you're wondering, is this silly Santa/elf because the highest mark on his report card this year was drama, and he tried out for the part of an elf in his class play - I told you he's a clown!)

Related Posts:

Sending Love and Christmas cheer around the world - a story about an unforgettable moment in 2016 when one of Taylor's choir concerts had me thinking about my Pandora friends around the world.

Forever Paris Contest: Pandora fans are not Grinches - a story about all the fans of Pandora promotional items and my definition of "a true Pandora fan" with a little poem inspired by Dr. Seuss.

Sing. Sing out loud... - a story about how Taylor came to love singing (no thanks to me!) and an important lesson she taught me about learning to be myself.

A tale of two cities... and a Christmas tree - a story that will give you goose-bumps and is a reminder that the Christmas spirit is about gratitude and generosity, and thinking of others in our hometowns, our countries, and around the world.

Let there be peace on earth - a story about choir performances on Remembrance Day after a terrorist act in our city, and the charm I have to represent my hope for peace.

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