I wanted to write earlier with fluid words and glowing appreciation about our caroling venture, but it just wasn't in me yet. Perhaps it still isn't, but earlier it was definitely too soon, and I hadn't had the time whilst caroling to begin composing the descriptive pictures in my head. So I know I have already posted twice (three times?) today, but this is my space, and I am writing again.
When we caroled, it was fairly chilly. When I left my second tutoring job, it was (or felt) colder still. Just now when I walked Miley, the air was a balmy 36 degrees. It was cool enough to mist my breath, but warm enough that wearing my jacket and scarf felt almost silly. We walked down past our neighborhood creek, as we usually do in the evenings, and the days-old snow lay dingy under the full moon, trodden down by dozens of feet and hundreds of footprints. Back on the road past the creek woods, I walked on the ground as much as possible, avoiding the slick ice and hard tarmac. In many places the newly bare, newly thawed earth was so soft that I felt I was walking on quilts.
My family and friends began caroling without me, as I was a little late leaving tutoring and stopped at the library to stock up on audio books. After I ate I stepped out the front door, walked to the corner, and followed the sound of their voices until I found them. We sang two songs for each house: first, a song we chose anew each time, and usually only the first verse, and second, the first verse of "We Wish You A Merry Christmas." Exceptions to the one-verse-only rule were made so that Chloe and I could sing the descant for "Oh Come All Ye Faithful," which just isn't as magical if sung on the first verse.
We sang for Chloe's old choir buddies. We sang for Lynn-Ellen's sister, who offered us cookies and invited us in for hot spiced wine. We sang for a handful of strangers, and for Celeste's piano teacher. One woman had heard us singing down the street, and then surprised us at the door. Her husband came out after we started singing, then ran back in at the end and returned with a handful of M&Ms bags and a cry of "Thank God for leftover Halloween candy!" We sang for Bill and Lynn-Ellen's children and their visiting friends, most of whom refused to come to the door--probably out of embarrassment. We solved this problem by invading their dining room and singing "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," with special emphasis on "he knows when you've been bad or good" and "so be good for goodness sake." This performance was followed by a walk-home conversation about the joys of embarrassing one's children.
Tonight, as I neared home and the end of my walk with Miley, our resident hoot owl began to call. It is such a homey, comforting sound.