Sunday, December 12, 2010

Confessions of a Victorian Christmas Caroler

Two years ago, I wrote the following article for Since we're in the thick of the season, I thought I'd share it with you today. Enjoy!



Each December, I dress up in costume, smile pretty, and sing Christmas carols to perfect strangers.

Yes Virginia, I'm a Victorian Christmas Caroler.

You know exactly what I'm talking about. You've seen us in malls and seniors’ centers. Maybe we made an appearance at your office party, or your local craft fair. It all started innocently enough. In university, I needed some extra money for Christmas presents, and the opportunity was just
too sweet. All I had to do was wear a fancy dress, sing carols, and someone would pay me. How could I not accept that offer?

By the end of the first season, I was hooked. Within a few years, I had started my own quartet, and then my own company. I made costumes and assembled a book of my favorite carol arrangements. My friends loved me because I was now providing them with jobs for their extra Christmas money.

Victorian caroling has brought me some of the coolest, and silliest, Christmas memories ever.

One year, our alto decided she would send our brochure to the NBA Raptors office, just for fun. As the booking agent for the group, I almost fell off my chair when I received a phone call from the Raptors event coordinator! We were booked to sing their Christmas game. We walked into
the very large Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, gleefully dressed in our Victorian attire. We sang carols to fans as they entered the arena, and then, we walked out onto the court and sang the national anthems. We even got platinum level seats for the game! What a Christmas gift!

Then there was the office building that had a Christmas party in each of its 31 office areas. We were asked to travel to each area, sing a few carols, and move on to the next area. We would try to do a few fun songs, take a request, and then move on. Well, when you take requests at
Christmas, you probably know what's going to happen - 31 renditions of Jingle Bells!

But here's the reason why all the silliness, all the craziness, is worth it:

Last year, my husband, Gerald, and I were booked to carol in a seniors’ home for their Christmas party. After singing for the gathering, we offered to visit the rooms of any residents who were unable to leave their beds to attend the party. We wandered from room to room, singing a song
for anyone we met.

In one room, we found an elderly gentleman lying in bed. Standing with him were two women, who we assumed were his wife and daughter. They broke out in smiles as soon as they saw us. We asked if they had a favorite carol. “Do you know ‘Deck the Halls’?" Gerald and I found our notes, and started the joyful song. As soon as the song began, the little family moved closer
together. They held hands, and then, they started to cry. Silent tears fell throughout the entire song. Gerald and I took deeper breaths to hold back our own tears. After the last verse, they said, “Thank you." We said, "Merry Christmas" and "God bless," and then we left for the next room. In
the hall outside the room, we wiped tears from our eyes, held hands, and said silent prayers of thanks for our own health, and our own marriage.

I don't know what that family was experiencing, I don't know why they requested "Deck the Halls," and I don't know what they were thinking when we sang it. But I do know this - in that moment, they needed that song. And I praise God that He brought us to that little room on that night.

Sometimes it may be a fun job, sometimes it may be a weird job, but in all of it, I am reminded that these are not simply Christmas ditties. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These songs tell the greatest story of the greatest birth ever. And I'm honored for the opportunity to sing that story again and again.

So this Christmas, when you see us in our funny costumes, singing our fourteenth rendition of "Jingle Bells," give us a smile and a nod, and sing along! The Christ is born, and we've got to sing it!

Merry Christmas!

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