By Susan Farr-Fahncke
Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.
~Ruth Ann Schabacker
Nothing warms the heart quite like Christmas caroling. The holidays can be hectic and the spirit of Christmas can easily become lost in the rush and worry of getting everything "just right." Eight of us neighbors decided to take a much-needed break and spend an evening Christmas caroling with our children. Setting out with the intention of lifting the spirits of our other neighbors, we spread Christmas cheer until we were tired, cranky and felt like popsicles.
One more house, we decided, and piling into our cars again, spotted the perfect target. The elderly man sitting alone in his kitchen window seemed like he needed us. Pulling over, we parked our cars in front of his house and argued about which songs to sing. Half of the children were either whining or crying about the cold and the Utah snow seemed to have lost its sparkle despite our good intentions.
Finally settling on four songs for the man, we rang the bell and waited for him to open his door. Already thinking about getting the kids to bed and the work I had yet to do, I automatically started in on "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" with the others. But as the man stood in the doorway, his eyes filling with tears, my sidetracked thoughts came to a screeching halt. As we sang, I could hear the tears in many of my friends' voices and my own voice caught and my singing grew softer as I fought the tears myself.
The elderly gentleman stood in his doorway, the ceiling fixture lighting his soft silver hair like a gentle halo. He clapped with delight as we finished the first song and glided right into the next. Warmth spilled from his home and out the door. He didn't seem to care, so happy he was with our visit. He seemed to personify the Spirit of Christmas and I felt a guilty twinge at my grouchiness. True joy began to fill my soul as I sang my heart out for this man. No one had greeted us with such enthusiasm and joy all night. No one had made us feel so welcome and so loved. Gratitude filled me like hot cocoa and I was so thankful we were guided to this man.
Finishing up with "Silent Night," we sang with great love for our neighbor, and I heard his own shaky voice join in with ours. Tears streamed down my cold cheeks and I knew not one of us would forget this man. Our song ended and we all stood on his porch, no one willing to break the spell of this glorious moment. The man stood grinning through his tears as we grinned right back through our own.
Thanking us profusely and wishing us a Merry Christmas, he went back inside his warm home, his big grin and the tears on his cheeks the last things we saw. We slowly and regretfully left the man, whose spirit and tears made all the difference in our night, all the difference in our Christmas. Although he had sat alone in his window, looking as if he needed us, we had no idea how much we needed him, and what a gift to our group of carolers that man would be. In him we found the true spirit of Christmas.