Mr. Crowley hated everything about Christmas; the lights up all over town, Christmas goodies, the fact that every store was decorated in green and red, and mostly he hated those little snot nosed carolers who circled the neighborhood every year singing dopey little songs off key.
He’d finally yelled at them to never, ever come back. Leaving the porch light off had not done the trick, nor had just not answering -they’d stood out there, singing, anyway. Even slamming the door in their bug-eyed little faces hadn’t worked. So finally, he’d resorted to yelling, and since then his bell had not rung.
The children had finished their cocoa and were ready for their annual night of caroling. These kids had grown up together, and every second week in December gathered together at one of their homes for first a gift exchange, then cookies and cocoa, and then finally they’d put on their mittens and coats and head out.
This year was little Anna’s first time. She was six now, and her mother had agreed to let her go. Anna could barely contain her excitement as she slipped her hand into fifteen year old Bailey’s and they left Nathaniel’s house, heading left on Walnut street.
The kids, about twelve in all, stopped at the Johnson’s first. They sang their usual first song, O Holy Night, the Johnsons gushing over how beautiful they sounded. The children glowed with the praises, and, skipping instead of walking for warmth, practiced their songs from house to house.
When they’d hit all but one house on Walnut Street and were just about to turn onto Second, Anna pointed at Mr. Crowley’s dark home.
“What about that house?” she asked.
“Oh, that’s where Mr. Crowley lives. He doesn’t like carolers.”
A confused look crossed Anna’s face before she responded, “Well, maybe he’ll like them this year.” She took a few steps down his overgrown walk, before Bailey pulled her back. “No, Anna. He really doesn’t like Carolers. In fact, he hates them. And he warned us never to go there again.”
“Yeah, he said, if we did, he’d cook us for his Christmas supper,” piped in Nathaniel.
“He did not!” said Ginny. “You can’t just make stuff up!”
The kids turned off Walnut Street, still telling stories of years past and Mr. Crowley, some real, some made up. Anna listened, fascinated, but when their talk turned to other things, she still couldn’t get him off her mind. She sang half-heartedly at the rest of the houses, unable to believe that anybody could possibly hate Christmas Carols. Was it the carols he hated or the carolers, she wondered.
Finally, they reached Nathaniel’s house where their parents were waiting to take them home. But Anna just couldn‘t go yet. She broke free of Bailey’s grip, jetting down the street. Shocked, Bailey took after her, followed by the rest of the children. Anna stopped in front of Mr. Crowley’s house, and after catching her breath bravely walked down his path. She rang his doorbell, waiting as the rest of the children looked on in astonishment.
Mr. Crowley, too, was astonished. As he walked to the door, he muttered something to himself about how if it was those dang carolers he was going to let those little brats have it. Adrenaline up by the time he reached his door, he swung it open. Standing only to his knees was one, lone child. Her hair hung in ringlets around a rosy face. She was so cherubic, Mr. Crowley’s first thought was that she was an angel. But then she opened her mouth, and he knew she was going to sing. Quickly, he slammed the door. But she was not swayed. And frozen on the other side, Mr. Crowley, now heard the most beautiful voice singing Joy to the World. He couldn’t walk away. Tears rolled down the man’s face. Was there joy in this world? Was there one born so long ago, who could bring joy to the whole world, to even him? Why now did he believe that? This young girl. She was like the angels in the song, proclaiming the good news. And before she finished, he slowly opened back up his door. He smiled for the first time since his own little girl had passed away around this time so many years ago. Anna smiled back at him, and then simply turned to go, not knowing that she left behind a heart now changed forever.
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