I can't believe I forgot to post about this.
Last week, a few ladies from our church organized a family caroling outing - meeting at the church and then singing familiar Christmas carols around the immediate neighborhood. Our church is very much a 'neighborhood' church, located right in the heart of Shandon, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Columbia. In fact, in 2012, the church will celebrate it's 100th birthday, hows that for old and historic?
So last Wednesday night, we bundled up the kids in coats and hats, gathered together with friends, pulled out flashlights, pages of carols and hymns, and proceeded to spread our good-hearted, good-natured Christmas cheer.
Other than the never ending fear that James would run out into the street in his utter excitement over the whole thing and be crushed by a passing car, and my shoulders tiring from literally wearing Jack on them, it was a really nice time. A fun, wholesome, good thing to do - and I think our voices sounded pretty darn good, even if we were off beat a few times, and certainly off key. (We weren't the choir after all....)
The most entertaining part for me, though, was seeing the different reactions from different homes that were blessed with our good cheer. One home we stopped at was full of middle-aged ladies, who had clearly been enjoying their 'girls night out' and the toddies accompanying it. They came out of the house in groups of two or three, raised their glasses to us (some of them sang along), and thoroughly enjoyed our presence.
At another home, two college-aged girls came to the door, were excited to see us, and then promptly began snapping pictures with their iphones that I'm sure ended up on someones facebook page.
Several older ladies came and sat on their respective porches, surrounded by the children in our group, sang along and clapped their hands, and thanked us whole-heartedly for coming 'round to sing such lovely songs.
But that wasn't all we experienced. No, for every sweet, sincere, and sometimes wine-induced compliment we received, there were several other things that happened that we could only laugh at.
Take the family that had their home brightly lit; lights on all the trees, Christmas tree glowing from the window, spotlights to highlight wreaths on every window and door, a home that basically screamed Christmas. The kids knocked on the door, we started singing, and singing, and singing, and finally decided they weren't home - and must be the stupid people who leave their tree lights on when they aren't home to catch fire and be one of those unfortunate statistics you read about every year - and think why in the world didn't you just turn the darn thing off? Anyway, all of a sudden, the lights turned off. Yeah, they literally turned the lights off on us. A pre-teen kid came to the door - then was called back in by his mother. Really? You're not going to allow your kid to listen to some good 'ol holly jolly Christmas carols? Nice. You need to watch some more of those Hallmark commercials - or at least one of those Lifetime movies that make you realize your life isn't all that bad - heck, your family didn't die in a fiery wreck on Christmas Eve and Meredith Baxter Birney isn't your mother-in-law reincarnated as the ghost of Christmas past. Get over yourself. And while your at it - pull your head out of your ass. We were trying to spread some Christmas cheer, dammit. Thanks for showing my kids what a true 'Grinch' is.
And across from that house was another that was similarly adorned with wreaths and lights and spotlights - you know, the whole works. Here a man came to the door - looked like he didn't know what to do - sort of waved at us - then ducked back in the house. It looked like he was talking to someone in the front room. We'll never know. He promptly shut the door. In our faces. How about that for holiday cheer? Maybe it was something about that particular block. Maybe they were really Muslim or Jewish people that didn't really want to celebrate Christmas - but felt obligated to put out lights and decorations to 'one-up' their neighbor. Who knows. All I know is that I certainly wouldn't 'want to be their neighbor' as Mr. Rogers used to say.
But the best? Well that happened at the house that is literally a stone's throw from the church steps, from the house that is right across the street from the front of the church. We were returning from our caroling adventure to warm up in the fellowship hall with cocoa and cookies (can't get more Norman Rockwell than that, can you?) At about the same time that we were turning the block, we noticed that a car was pulling into the drive of said home. You've never seen two people get out of their car so freaking fast, fumbling with their keys to get in the house, and shutting the door before the kids could get there. It was like something out of a bad made-for-TV movie (ala Lifetime Network.) Of course we all laughed, and shuttled the kids into the church, trying to ignore the questions they had about said Scrooges who felt the need to hide and slam the door in their faces. If I'd have been a bit more on my game, and not with church friends, I probably would have marched right up the steps to their house, banged on the door, and sang Christmas carols non-stop for hours - poking my face in their windows like in that scene from the film "Skipping Christmas" (which is hilarious - and a must see if you missed it somehow.) Or at least given them a piece of my mind. But like I said, I was with church people. Who probably wouldn't have taken it to well to see me start dropping the f-bomb interchangeably with words like 'Christ's birth', 'good cheer', and 'God's blessings.'
So I refrained. But I do wonder why people are the way they are. I wonder if they thought we were going to ask for (gasp) a donation or something. Like 'hey mister, for $20 bucks I'll sing your favorite carol, its for a really good cause.' It seems in these cases, the better thing to say would have been 'hey - for $20 bucks I'll take this pack of kids and get them the heck off your property.' I wonder if they thought we were there to 'witness' to them, to tell them that last Wednesday night was a perfect night to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Whatever. We're Episcopalians. We don't 'witness.' We just drink a lot. Oh, and go caroling, to spread some damn holiday cheer. So there.
People amaze me.