What I've Learned from Caroling in the Neighborhood

Posted by Liz Perraud at

A group of about 20 from our church went Christmas caroling on Sunday evening. We’ve done this for six years, walking through the church neighborhood for about an hour, ringing doorbells where lights are on, introducing ourselves as from the church up the street, and asking if they’d like to be sung to. We’re in a neighborhood with wide streets, few cars, and no streetlights or sidewalks. Our group is always a mixture of ages, the youngest usually so young that they may need to be carried by the end. Here’s what I’ve learned from the experiences:

Just because a house has Christmas lights outside doesn’t mean the people want you to sing to them.

Walking in the cold and the dark is fun with a group. Headlamps and flashlights help. And so does the promise of pizza and hot chocolate waiting at the end.

Most know the first verse of common Christmas songs by heart but they still look at the words.

Singing only the first verse of a song works well. Except in the case of Rudolph and then you have to sing the whole story.

(Some) People open their front door after dark. Having a 3 year old ring the doorbell helps.

Chatting as you walk is the best thing.

The youngest ones know and love “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph” but also “Away in a Manger” and “Silent Night.”

Some people give cookies and biscotti away to unexpected singing strangers. And those singing strangers gladly accept them.

Dogs like to bark. Especially at night at singing strangers.

A surprising number of people say “no” when asked, “Can we sing a few Christmas songs for you?” And shut the door rather quickly.

In the six years of our caroling the “no’s” seem to have gotten more frequent. Theories could abound as to why. In most cases it’s likely because it’s an inconvenient time or someone doesn’t feel well. I’ll choose to believe that.

Biggest surprise? Finding a disabled adult care home nestled into the homes of the neighborhood. (They let us sing)

Biggest joy? When people sing along.

We wish you a merry Christmas, and a happy new year!

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