By Rosanna Bauman
I just attended our second night of Christmas caroling. The local church members host two evenings of caroling a week apart. With 42 songs in our caroling booklet, some of the carols are bound to stick in your head. And once a song is stuck in your head, there’s riot much you can do about it, as evidenced by the compulsive carol quotes in this column.
The evening begins early, at 5pm sharp: 0 Come all ye faithful,joyful and triumphant board those school buses now! Sixty to eighty carolers board the buses that are rented just for this occasion. We don’t just show up unexpectedly on someone’s porch, we schedule carefully the times and number of stops. Each night consists of approximately six stops and 30-35 total carols sung. We don’t Go tell it on The Mountain, because this is Kansas. Instead, we sing at the area nursing homes as well as at the homes of our elderly church members. We most often sing indoors, crowding into living rooms or activity rooms in the nursing homes, but sometimes we are outside, shivering under the Silver Star(s). It is a Silent Night no longerl
At some of the homes, a dish of candy or plate of cookies will be offend to the carolers as we exit. This makes the three hour caroling spree seem shorter, especially for the children. The youngest of the bunch don’t actually sing. That’s because they haven’t got much past saying “Da-Da”. But they still enjoy themselves. A ride on a school bus is extremely exciting for a toddler. During the singing, they entertain themselves by adjusting mittens and pulling the stocking cap over their eyes. The elderly enjoy watching the young ones fidget. In fact, I am convinced that nothing makes a senior’s day brighter than being around a young child. I shared my songbook with a 3 and 4 year old, who carried on a duet that largely consisted of “Merry Christmas, Merry Chrlstmasl” repeated over and over with a few words like “manger” and “angel” thrown in. Angels from the Realms of Glory, certainly have a more beautiful harmony,but I doubt that they are any more sincere than these two little girls.
In a sense, caroling can be chalked up as yet another Christmas season activity that keeps you running, but it’s not. It may seem a trivial thing, but it is the gift of song, and this is a gift that brings Joy to the world. There’s a reason that songs are popular at Christmas. Because sometimes, we just can’t say what we feel without bursting into song. Because ln my Heart There Rings a Melody, and it just leaks out at Christmas time.
After three hours of Ring(ing) Out the Message, the carolers are ready to collect their (monetary) reward. We steer the buses back to the old church that’s been converted into a community building. We have to sing for our supper, but the wait is definitely worth it! Two giant roaster pans of chili await the voice-weary carolers. There is no one’s recipe that can beat the Caroling Chili! This chili has the best flavor because it has no particular recipe. Every family brings a pot of chill when they arrived and we dump them all together in the roaster pans. Some make their chili thick, others thin. Some use chunky tomatoes, some use venison burger, others shredded beef or wild goose. After simmering for nearly four hours, the flavors have blended and let me tell you, it has quite the flavorl Even if I got everybody’s chili recipe and tried to combine it into one recipe, it still wouldn’t taste the same, It is one of the mysteries of the chemistry of cooking. As good as the chili is; that’s not the only thing holding down the twenty-foot serving table. Everyone brings a plate of cookies, veggies, or chips and dip. Plus, there’s hot cocoa, cider, and coffee to thaw us out. But all good things tome to an end, and this ends before It came upon a Midnight Clear. I guess we’ll have to Let Heaven and Nature sing, the rest of the Wonderful Story of Love,because I am going home to bed! This caroler needs to rest her voicel
Goodnight to you all and sweet be thy sleep; may angels around you their silent watch keep; goodnight goodnightl