Elaine knew it was going to be a chore getting the children ready and willing to go caroling. Elise, 12, and Nathan, at age 10, were independently minded and had many other things they would rather be doing with the two hours this would take from their evening.
“Come on, kids. We need to be leaving soon. We have to meet at the church van in half an hour.”
“Aw-w-w, Mom. I’m getting too old for this,” Elise whined.
“Well, it’s no fun for me,” Nathan chimed in. “No other kids ever come. It’s always just the adults from the choir.”
“Now, Elise, you have a beautiful, clear voice. We really need you. And, Nathan, you just don’t know how much joy it brings to the older folks who can’t get to the church building anymore - to see young people, with life and strength, come to their homes. It’s really such a blessing. Besides, it’s a blessing to us, too, to have these traditions we’ll cherish.”
When the kids saw their dad putting on his coat and gloves, they knew their fate was sealed. He herded them all out with, “Besides, if your mom is making me go, you know you have no options.”
The night was cold, but not yet frigid. Darkness hung heavily with no moon to lighten the black velvet blanket of sky. Nearly frozen droplets of moisture seemed to surround vibrations of sounds, separating them distinctly into cells of isolation.
Jamar clung to the shadows perusing the number of dimly lit houses.
How nice that so many on this block are using the same night to do more shopping.
He began to lay out a plan for which homes he would “hit” this time. He carefully considered which of the houses looked better cared for – this always being a good clue as to the inhabitants’ wealth. He, also, looked for easy access, and less visible entrances and exits, cars present or absent, bluish blurs of light reflecting off window glass indicating a television being watched, and escaping smoke from chimneys.
Just as Jamar was about to step off the curb, a van turned down the street, stopping directly across from where he was standing. He slunk back into the deep shadows, watching.
As the side door of the van opened, voices pelted the once silent street. He counted twelve figures milling around in a loose group, several holding papers and flashlights. He was startled when the mass began to move as one through the middle of the street – singing. At a few houses, the front doors opened, porch lights went on, some people even donned coats and stepped out to hear the serenade and cheer on the troubadours. He acknowledged the futility of his plan, however, when one woman brought out foam cups of hot chocolate to serve to the group.
This is it! These people will never clear out in time for me to get any “business” taken care of tonight.
Elaine talked happily to her family as they drove home from the caroling.
“See, kids, wasn’t that fun? Every year you clamor not to go caroling, and yet, every year something delightful happens.”
“The hot chocolate was the best,” Nathan opinioned.
“It was really nice to see Mrs. Furgeson, again. I remember her teaching my Sunday School class six years ago,” Elise relayed. “You know, she said this was the first thing to give her a smile since Mr. Furgeson died.”
“Well, kids, it’s just like I’ve always said, ‘You just don’t know what good is going to come from doing a simple act of kindness.’”
Little did Elaine know the truth her words held.
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