Inspired by my 85-year-old neighbor who told me she was having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit, the boys and I grab a friend and some Santa hats and head to her house to surprise her with some old fashioned caroling.
“No school bus versions. No Batman smells. No Jingle Bell explosions. Got it?” The boys look at me wide-eyed as I run down the caroling rules. Only a group of boys would actually need rules spelled out.
I’d hoped to grab some neighborhood girls to join us but no one was home. I figured the girls would carry the songs. I worry the boys will peter out and I’ll end up singing solo.
After repeated knocks on Mrs. J.'s door, her son, the source of her holiday stress (and lack of spirit), opens the front door in his pajama bottoms and a sweatshirt. From the look on his face, he’s clearly wondering why he got off the couch. His mom is visiting her other son 90 miles away in Dayton.
Since we can’t turn tail and run, I give the boys a thumbs-up and hope for the best. Together, we give one of the saddest versions of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer I have ever heard. Different tempos. Different keys. Different words.
I don’t think our singing is doing anything to lift pajama man’s holiday spirit.
“Big finish, boys!” I’m hoping to hype them up for We Wish You a Merry Christmas. It doesn’t go much better.
“Okay, then. Well. Happy Holidays.” The boys and I sprint across the street away from the house.
Most might give up, go home, try and forget it ever happened. Not us!
We visit another house. The college-aged daughter answers the door. She smiles and encourages as the boys struggle through our three-song routine.
“That was great!” she gushes. The boys smile and sing louder.
On to House #3! We ring the bell of a neighbor whose husband suffered a stroke. His nurse answers the door delighted.
“Let me get him. He’ll love this!”
She wheels him to the open door. His wife stands behind him, her hands rest upon his wheelchair.
The boys sing strong. Different pitches, different tempos, but they’re in the spirit. It is a memorable (dare I say, unforgettable?) performance.
We have time for one more house before we need to start dinner.
“Mrs. G.!” F. yells. She’s a favorite. Since testifying in front of the zoning board and single-handedly saving our tree house, she’s gained near rock-star status in my eyes.
She rewards the boys’ singing with plastic sandwich bags filled with handfuls of M and Ms.
“This was great!” F. says between swallows of chocolate.