Real Life Mama: Hot cocoa, chaos and Christmas caroling

When was the last time you went Christmas caroling? Or when was the last time you had carolers show up at your door? Before this past weekend, I cannot even remember the last time I experienced it. Actually, I am not even sure I had ever caroled before – maybe in Girl Scouts as a little girl. Maybe.

But a few weeks ago, it crossed my mind and I figured, why not take these babies on a new adventure? So, I threw out a date and invited my go-to people to join us for some hot cocoa, chaos and caroling. I figured it would be crazy, but what I never expected was it to be so heartwarming and fun.

About 20-25 people showed up at my house that night – mostly kids, but a few brave parents made the trek with us as well. We had small flashlights, to-go cups of hot cocoa with whipped cream on top, and a few stapled together handouts of songs that my friend threw together as we weren’t sure how well everyone knew the full songs.

Turns out, we definitely needed the words to the songs. We found out quickly that we were really good at a few key songs, but “Away in a Manager” and “Go Tell it on the Mountain” were, um, interesting. Thankfully, a few other parents and I stepped in when the songs got really rocky. Plus, the kiddos caught on quick and were able to flip to “Jingle Bells” or “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” if the first song fell apart. We heard a lot of Jingle Bells.

From house to house we went, some practically sprinting and the rest of the group coming up from behind. I watched as different kids took the lead on which song should be next and made logical choices based on past performances. A few were too shy to sing, some decided playing with rocks was more fun and others shouted their little lungs out.

It was all thrown together – a crazy, chaotic caroling bunch of kids roaming around in the dark belting out tunes that would not soon win a second round pick on a game show. But that didn’t matter to them. They were loving every second of it.

A few days before we went, I sent out a message in my neighborhood group to let them know (or warn them) that we would be around. And you guys, can I just tell you how much I love my neighborhood? Everyone that was home not only opened their door for us, but many had treats prepared to hand out to the kids. One kid even said it was like trick or treating all over again – but while caroling. Ha!

We had a few sweet neighbors sitting out front in chairs with lights lining their driveway waiting on us, one neighbor joined right in for the chorus of “Frosty the Snowman,” another neighbor decided to walk with us around the hood, and yet another one recorded us from across the street (I didn’t realize we were THAT loud).

While my eyes (and my camera) were a lot of time pointed towards the kids, I did stop and soak in the faces of our audience. My sweet neighbors embraced our babies – even those poor ones who got some of our not so known songs. These people showed up for our kids and made them feel like they were on Broadway.

And the smiles on my neighbors’ faces as they watched (and at times, I am sure, wanted to cringe – but they didn’t), those smiles filled up my heart. We were loud and made a ruckus for a good straight hour or so late on a Saturday night and yet, they seemed to soak it in just as much as the kiddos did.

Which, I didn’t even think of. When I set this up, it was (selfishly) just something fun for our babies to experience – a Christmas adventure to keep them busy and get them in the Christmas spirit. And yet, from all the feedback and “thank yous” I realized that it brought just as much joy to those living near us as it did to the kids spreading it. And for that, I couldn’t be more thankful.

I highly doubt these kids will go home and work on their singing. And I am not sure I took away any pointers or key learning experiences from this adventure. But I will tell you that this is not a one-time thing. No way! This is what I like to call the first ANNUAL caroling trip in our neighborhood. Because next year, you better believe, we are doing this again – for the kids, the neighbors, and well quite honestly also, for me.

Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her daughters and writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.