Monday, December 19, 2016

Fourth Week of Advent: Houses

Previously: Weeds, Scent, Muffins

The caroling trip wasn't going the way I'd expected.

The previous several years I'd helped organize my church's annual outing to visit our shut-ins and sing to them the songs of the season, we'd divided into two groups, each taking half the list. Given that we had so many, it seemed to be a sensible way to ensure that everyone was seen within a reasonable timeframe.

Several of my caroling families had other ideas, however, as they insisted that the entire group travel together to see everyone. That meant corralling 40 or so people to 10-12 different houses, the whereabouts of several of which I wasn't completely certain myself. My assumption had been that a group of around 20--3-4 carloads max--could navigate the unknown places with relative ease. Instead, we'd all engage in this adventure in guesswork together.

The evening proceeded without too much incident. While parking on several streets provided challenges and each household only got to hear maybe 3 songs each, things were going smoothly. Sometimes I was in the front and sometimes I'd allow others to take the lead, each of us trusting our assorted GPSes or phone apps to lead the way.

Our 6th or 7th house was one of the unfamiliar ones. I'd added her to the list thinking she'd appreciate and enjoy a little merriment and, as far as I'd known, the group hadn't visited her in previous years. In fact, I'd never been to her house for a visit either, so it truly was the blind leading the blind.

Another car led the caravan to this particular street. We all climbed out of our vehicles and began searching for house numbers, which seemed poorly marked on many. Finally convinced we'd found the right place, someone knocked on the door and we broke into song as one from our group handed over a fruit basket to the first person to answer. In fact, the entire family came to listen with looks of joy and bewilderment on their faces, the one receiving the basket appearing especially perplexed at our presence.

And then it finally dawned on us that we were at the wrong house.

As this realization swept over the group, we pressed on with our singing as if the whole thing had been planned. Yes, of course we meant to stop here. And this lovely arrangement of produce is definitely for you and not someone else. We're glad to have finally met in person, whoever you are.

The house we actually wanted was right across the street. Luckily, we had more than one basket.

Nobody seemed all that upset that we'd made an extra stop. By the time we bade our new friends farewell we could already laugh about it. I still know nothing about the family we serenaded that night or whether the experience was at all enjoyable on their end, but as the reality of what was happening sank in halfway through "Joy to the World," we didn't really care.

We were out to share the season's spirit of love with people, and if that meant a few we hadn't meant to see, all the better. There's plenty to go around.

Image via Freefoto.