It was Brandon, Florida, of the 1970s, and I can still feel the excitement as we rang the doorbell, bundled up and huddled together in the chilly December night air, giggling in anticipation. The door swung open and we burst into song, giving our neighbors the gift of Christmas carols. I have never been a great singer, but I felt a special joy belting out the familiar tunes, my heart swelling with the spirit of the season. There was such a feeling of goodwill, neighbors sharing with each other, laughing and talking, joining together in song. Afterwards, we headed to someone’s home to enjoy cups of hot cocoa by a brightly decorated Christmas tree, the smell of frasier fur permeating the room.
Sometimes it was my Girlscout troop, sometimes my band friends, other times just a bunch of kids from the neighborhood. Caroling was a yearly holiday ritual, something I looked forward to with great anticipation- a true marker of the season. We don’t get carolers here in the city, as there isn’t the same sense of community in our bustling and ever-changing ‘hood. The tradition does live on, though, as many of our college students gather to sing for nursing homes in the area. I love seeing their faces light up as they tell me about the reactions of the seniors to the Christmas surprise, all smiles and excitement, singing along to those remembered melodies. There is magic in these traditions. The gift of song….and the gift of Christmas memories past.