Some of the folks at our church organized a small caroling expedition this evening. It wasn't a highly structured affair -- a list of shut-in members to visit, a series of nursing homes. And there weren't many of us, and we weren't rehearsed, and we didn't have accompaniment. (At one of the nursing homes we walked in right on the heels of a large Methodist youth group that had brought music stands and guitars. Is that really in the spirit of caroling, which is in my experience an a capella endeavor?)
But we had heart, and a lyric sheet, and some strong voices. Most of all, we had a desire to participate in one of the most iconic forms of giving that the season affords, or at least the Victorian version of the season that we all treasure. And we had a cherubic little girl giving it her all. We made sure to put Cady Gray, our only child participant, front and center so that our lack of professionalism and preparation would be offset by her indomitable cuteness.
Cady Gray, for her part, took it as seriously as I would have taken it at her age. I used to love any occasion where I was the only child doing something with a bunch of teens or adults. It made me feel like they had neglected to notice that I was a child for a moment, and included me in something usually reserved for people twice my age. I always tried to act casual, like I belonged. And I saw that with Cady Gray singing tonight. She wasn't a retiring flower; I could hear her belting it out even over the big booming sounds of the choir members and youth group stalwarts who carried our tune -- even over my very loud voice, and I was singing as loudly as I could. She studied the lyric sheet carefully and practiced in the back seat as we drove from location to location.
Noel is big on occasions where we can "make memories" for the kids. This is the kind of memory I treasure, and the kind I want Cady Gray to keep with her long after she leaves childhood behind. Singing with the grown-ups, bringing smiles to the faces of elderly and infirm community members, standing in a nursing home common area and having resident after resident wheel themselves up to listen in and sing along. I hope she remembers how easy it is for her to make people happy, and never doubts her power to give so much joy with just a tiny investment of herself.