by Amber Krawiec from Edmonton, AB
Dec 13, 14
While attending university, I had the opportunity to sing in the Augustana Choir. Every year at Christmas the choir would hire out smaller groups to carol at different events around town. Each group would have about 4 or 8 carolers, armed with pitch pipes and tuning forks. We always had fun sharing the joy of Christmas with others through classic carols sung in four-part harmony.
After my friends and I graduated and moved on from university, we found that we still wanted to share choral music with each other, and with the people in our community. Luckily, Christmastime has a way of bringing people together, and on more than one occasion we found ourselves able to pull out our old caroling binders again. On one such night, we sang a short concert at a church in Edmonton. Following the concert the congregants had put together a small reception. While we visited, someone suggested that we should go out and knock on a few doors – Christmas caroling the old fashioned way. It was a terribly cold night, probably -30 degrees Celsius, but we bundled up and went out into the night. As we moved from house to house, we sang a few favourites, “Away in a Manger”, “Joy to the World”, “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”, and we were met with smiling (and surprised) faces as people poked their heads out of their doors. But it was cold and before long, we were ready to head back. One of our members wanted to sing for just one more house.
And so we stood in the glow of the Christmas lights that decorated the next house on the block, someone knocked on the door and we started singing “Silent Night.” An older gentleman appeared at the door and when he saw us his face lit up. He disappeared from sight for a moment, and then returned with his wife. As they stood and listened, the husband draped a blanket over his wife’s shoulders and tears welled up in their eyes. In the magic of that moment, I have to admit that tears brimmed in my eyes as well. When we reached the end of the third verse, which we had sung in German, the couple applauded us joyfully and thanked us for sharing our music. Then, to our surprise, they invited all of us into their home for a cup of tea. We learned that their names were Carl and Monica, and that they had moved to Edmonton from Germany 20 years previous. In all of that time, they had never had carolers come to their door. They brought out delicious German shortbreads, treats, and tea for all of us.
We shared a few more carols, and enjoyed each other’s company like we were old friends.
As we said our goodbyes it struck me that we had just shared the best parts of Christmas: music, generosity, kindness, joy, trust, and love. Carl and Monica opened their home to us without a second thought. If they are listening today, I would like them to know that I have thought of them fondly every Christmas since.