Rachel stood in the dark cold and wondered what she was doing here. Her feet felt frozen, and her nose tingled. Sure frostbite had set in, she wanted to back out and go home.
The door to the house opened and light from a single candle spilled out onto the brown grass. Twenty people crowded around the door and peered out.
As Rachel’s group sang a verse from “O Come, All Ye Faithful”, her gaze took in the haggard faces. The worn blankets wrapped around slumped shoulders. It was Christmas Eve. Did these people really want to stand in the cold and listen to their attempts at being a chorus?
Her mind wandered back through her day.
She had awakened her teenage children and fed them their last two eggs for breakfast before sending them out in the wintry air to find wood and water. Her youngest son, five years old Jason, helped her clear the leaves out of the roof gutters in preparation for rain. Their rain barrel was empty.
Her children did not understand why they had to go without electricity or all the conveniences that electricity brought. The country was going through a new depression era. Everything had to be either handmade or done without. Her husband had even built them a fireplace to cook in and heat their home. She remembered his chest expanding as they oohed and aahed over it. So proud. Then today, he came home with a coveted can of stew.
Tom is trying so hard to provide for us, she thought to herself. I really need to express my appreciation to him more.
Then Tom informed them of the invitation to go caroling with their bible study group. Going to church in town was out of the question as there was no gasoline available for the cars. So, they formed their own house church here in this small community. They were always coming up with things to do to bolster everyone’s spirits.
As they got ready to go, Megan had fussed about the length of her skirt that Rachel had sewn for her. Why did it have to be so long?
“It will keep your legs warm.” Rachel said through gritted teeth.
“But it’s so old fashioned!” Megan’s eyes filled up with tears.
Rachel struggled to hold back her own tears. “Everything old is new again, dear. Remember that.”
The group moved on to the next house and Tom knocked on the door. They started a verse from Silent Night as the door opened to an older couple, huddled under a blanket together. Rachel watched as the couple clung to each other and smiled. Hunger etched their faces, and yet a glow infused their eyes. Confused, Rachel tried to think what would bring such joy to them.
Another house, this one dark and closed. No one came to the door. Singing as they walked, they crossed the street to start on the other side. Rachel thought about what they were singing. Songs about the birth of Jesus. God’s gift to the world. Our Savior and Redeemer. Supposed to help us, ease our burdens. Where was He?
Unbidden, more memories of her day came to her mind. Her five years old son, Jason, saying grace for his breakfast of stale dry toast. She remembered his childish request for some stew, and how God had answered his prayer by the generosity of the man Tom’s boss.
The jugs of water that had appeared on her doorstep.
The bolt of thick warm cloth she had bartered for so she could make winter clothes for her children.
Now, here she was, singing Christmas songs as if nothing was wrong. Caroling was such an old-fashioned tradition. What good did it do? It didn’t put food on the table, or make blankets to keep them warm.
As she sang the next song, O Holy Night, the words drew her in. She really felt them this time. Looking up, she saw the faces of a small family. They were just as hungry and cold as she was, but they lit up as if Christmas had come. Rachel realized that indeed, it had come. The Christmas songs became a reminder of their Provider, their Comforter. They were not alone.
Quietly, a thought whispered across her mind. Do you still think caroling is old fashioned? Nope, she answered. Every thing old is new again.
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