On the first Sunday of December each year, we take the children from our church’s boys and girls ministries Christmas caroling at a senior independent living community. After the morning service, the children and the chaperones meet in the fellowship hall. Fruit baskets are assembled for the nursing staff while the children practice the songs.
We always serve pizza for lunch. Some children only agree to go caroling because they want pizza. We know that. While we would prefer they come for more charitable reasons, we know something they don’t. Even the reluctant children will touch the hearts of those who hear them sing, and they will be touched in return.
The singing starts in the activity room for those who have gathered. After the carols are concluded, the children hand out gifts to the residents. It is an easy way to get shy children to mingle and interact with the seniors. This year the children handed out stockings they had decorated, cards they made, and bags of home-baked cookies. The children eagerly present their gifts to the residents and make sure that everyone is included. The residents reciprocate with smiles and hugs.
When the program is done, we walk through the halls singing and handing out the rest of the gifts. The children are excited every time a resident opens his or her door and joins in the singing. The resident is serenaded for a few minutes and receives many hugs before the group moves on. Some of the residents are unable to walk to the doorway so relatives or staff members open their doors to let them see and hear the children. Often the children will march right into the apartment to hug the resident. It’s very moving, and those are my favorite memories of caroling.
There’s a lot of truth in the carols they sing. The children may not fully appreciate the meanings of the songs, but the residents who have sung these songs for decades certainly do. I’m sure the words become more precious as they realize their time on Earth is nearing an end, and they will soon meet the baby born on Christmas day.
Taking forty children Christmas caroling requires a lot of planning and coordination. The date has to be scheduled. Chaperones have to be secured and transportation arranged. Permission slips have to be signed. Gifts and cards have to be purchased. Pizza has to be ordered and cookies baked. We have moments when we wonder if it worth the effort, but those moments are fleeting. We only have to recall the experiences of previous years to realize that we will bless and be blessed by our afternoon spent Christmas caroling. There’s really no better way to get into the Christmas spirit!
Hark the herald angels sing “Glory to the new born king! Peace on Earth and mercy mild. God and sinners reconciled.”