The two Christmas Caroling adventures I joined in this season were light on planning, almost impromptu. A few members of my church choir decided to go to the homes of people who can’t make it to church very often. Some of houses we stopped at had no lights on. Maybe they were out or had gone to bed. We wanted to make it a surprise, but maybe we should have called, or started earlier in the evening or afternoon.
But some people were home. A few days ago, I got a sweet thank you note in the regular mail from the couple we sang carols to. They’re an elderly couple who have been members of our church for a long time. Mrs. N wrote how touched they were that we came a caroling to their home. She said her husband was talking about it when he woke up the next morning, saying how much he enjoyed it. Their grandchildren, who were there that night making Christmas crafts, enjoyed it too.
The neighborhood caroling plans were made on line with a couple neighbors I had not met in person. It was a joy to meet these three other women, two of whom said they couldn’t sing, but they really could. We started at 4:30, walking through the neighborhood with the plan to stop at homes of people we knew or brightly decorated homes. A few of the people we wanted to sing to were not home. A couple neighbors said, “no thanks, not right now,” to our offer. It’s understandable that they were busy, and we hadn’t called ahead.
But one elderly woman was so pleased we had come to sing for her, she invited us in and kept us there for a while. She told us about her family and her faith graciously enjoying the visit. One couple on my block said they’d been out shopping earlier and were frustrated by the traffic. They said we made their day.
It’s like my job as a substance abuse counselor. Some of my clients think coming to see me is an inconvenience. Some are in denial and angry. But there are those who keep me going. Like the one who left a small hand-made cross key chain for me and the note that thanked me for helping him “get through some of the darkest times.”
The lesson I want to remember is that when things don’t go as well as we had hoped, and even when we think our efforts are are in vain, we can make a difference. Even if we help one person smile, or feel a little better – even if it’s we who feel better – our efforts are worthwhile.