Singing Scenery by Annita Woz

longsbarn1On the doorstep, ten of a family of twelve children stood surrounding the youngest boy who had chattering teeth and very rosy cold cheeks.

We quickly invited them in and were told a short story about a previous stop where their knock on the door was met with a raised eyebrow, a suspicious glare and a slam.

This was not a group looking for shelter, not a family with a sad story to tell, not a family offering brochures about religion on Christmas day.

Instead, it was simply a family of voices.

Standing in a circle, the cold fog of their breath disappeared and they started to sing a beautiful harmony. The tiniest child mixed her sweet sound with the voices of her mom and siblings. Some grown brothers and sisters, were all together on this cold night, drawn home to their family by the holiday tradition of caroling.

This was a tradition I had forgotten existed and hadn’t seen anyone put into practice for many years.  I reached for my eldest daughter and hugged her to my side, and she whispered to me, “What do they want?” and looked very puzzled at my answer.

I had circled my arms around my nine year old and leaned in to kiss the top of her head.  She was uncomfortable to be held by me in the front line of the watchers but soon settled in as the tambourine began shaking and the verses of Jingle Bells filled the room.

The home of my sister in law was full of holiday visitors and relatives, cousins and uncles, and boyfriends that we hoped would someday be husbands.  Her home was full of family, full of wrapping and bows and now, these giving hearts had piled on their own gift- the music that was a part of their family, a gift that didn’t need any pretty paper.

A niece from Texas was home to hear them.  Several cousins on break from the final exams that had kept them awake the previous week were pulling themselves out of the family room and toward the front entrance to hear the chorus.  A set of seven year old twin cousins came to the linoleum and edged in by my young girls to enjoy the music.  The TV was turned off, all toys left behind as everyone responded to familiar tunes that drew them closer to this singing scenery.

Despite being wrapped in warm coats, some with mittens that clapped out a rhythm, some with scarves wrapped around chins, and even a few hats with earflaps,  the caroling family effortlessly turned into performers without fancy props.  No sequined gowns, no church books to lead them, they sang out their merriment through Deck the Halls, for the amusement of our family.

We rocked in a semicircle. The littlest in our family hummed along. The grownups took turns smiling at the singers and appreciating this moment.  We were grateful our children were being given a demonstration of the balance of the beauty of carols against Santa’s recent generosity. 

We offered a heartfelt thank you in the form of a request for an encore and  added our own voices to their final song each family wishing the other a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

The  three dogs lay down between the two groups, a fence of fur separating the mouths from the ears. They didn’t know the carolers, but the sound of the songs,  somehow assured them that they didn’t need to defend us from these visitors. Settling in to the warmth of their voices they relaxed in their duty to protect and flopped down in three circles of tail to nose.

A. Woz

Writer – Child Grower

2 Responses

  1. aw, thats so great 🙂

    you’re such a good writer.

    me and some of my friends were planning on caroling this Christmas, but one of them got grounded…and.. thats how it ended ha.

  2. I agree; you are such a good writer. I have added you to my blog roll.
    I hope my blogs are useful enough for you to reciprocate.

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