Serving in Surprising Ways

The Christmas season is now behind us, despite the fact that my eldest daughter wants to keep our tree up until her birthday — February 23.

Me: “We can keep it up a bit longer, but I don’t think it’s going to make your birthday.”

Her: “But I like it!”

Maybe that is why I still have Christmas carolling on my mind.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Christmas carols. Oh, I mean, who doesn’t like Rudolf or Silver Bells, but as to singing them in church over the month of December? Never really been my fav. I mean, some of these carols actually have eight verses! I am not exaggerating. And they all sound the same. And they all speak in Ancient English. So, to all of you who love the Christmas Carols, to each their own.

The irony of it is, as a worship leader, I have been immersed in Christmas Carols over the last few Decembers. I have even found some that I really quite love. And then of course I released my own Christmas Album, although part of me was inwardly shaking my head all the time going, You? You don’t even like Christmas Carols! It’s funny how when God puts a project on our hearts to complete, even those things we don’t necessarily think we like become life to our souls.

This winter, one of my besties, Deanna came with me to play guitar and bass when I was invited to sing at the Touch of Christmas Craft Sale in order to benefit shut ins. So, when she then decided she wanted to go Christmas Carolling for the Salvation Army Kettle Drums, I was happy to return the favour. 

Deanna signed us up for three different time slots, though I was working through one of them, and so, away we went. With guitars and song sheets in hand, she and I took ourselves out to raise money for the kettles. The experience changed the way I view those volunteers. Next year, I will take coffee offerings with me when I donate my toonies and loonies to the cause.

The first day, we sang outside a busy drug store location. It was great for the first hour. By 90 minutes in, my toes were freezing inside my boots. 2 hours in my fingers were so cold I could no longer feel where they were placed on the guitar strings, so I gave up and packed the guitar away, and from that point my contribution consisted of vocals only. Somewhere in hour two it started to snow, big, fluffy, beautiful flakes that landed on my nose and in my hair. Also somewhere in hour two Deanna’s kids arrived and the song selection became a lot more secular and quite fun as we vainly tried to recall the gifts on all 12 Days of Christmas from memory. 

People stopped to watch us. A lot of people donated money. Children and their parents joined in and sang along. 

It was Deanna’s birthday. One we will never forget. By hour three, when our shift was done, I could barely speak, let alone sing, I was frozen, needed a bathroom and a coffee, but there was definite satisfaction in the job we had done.

The next time we went out, our location was prime. We got to stand inside the entrance to Superstore Grocery store. It was warmer, dryer, and the vaulted ceiling of the entry did something quite spectacular to the acoustics of our songs. This time we were joined by Deanna’s mother, who had just arrived for Christmas from Northern BC (You are a trooper, Sheila!). The three of us sang from our little repertoire, and then we added Lil Drummer (Girl) to the mix, with Deanna playing guitar, my drumming on my guitar and all of us singing. At least, I was singing when I wasn’t laughing so hysterically at my horrid drumming skills. Timing? What timing? But hey… it sounds cool if you bang against the strings, and if you bang on the side of the guitar, and if you tap with your knuckles and… Deanna said, “It would be bad if you broke your guitar,” which may have been my cue to take it down a notch.

“And that,” I proudly proclaimed at the end of the song, “Is why I am not the drummer in the band!” 

Because we were warm and indoors, we actually had an audience of sorts this time around. People would stop and listen to multiple songs. Again, people would sing along. One man walked past saying, “Bah, humbug!” But he grinned when I responded with, “You’re a mean one, Mister Grinch…” and then realized that those were all the lyrics I knew. We saw a lot of people we knew, got a lot of thank you’s, a lot of positive feedback, and one request for ACDC. 

But, it felt good, what we had done. It felt like people really actually liked hearing the spirit of the season brought to them at their little local grocery corner. It felt like we should gather more participants and do it again the next year.

IMG_5615There are so many places and way to serve that we overlook every day. When you get the chance to do something, just go. You never know how much fun you might have, whose day you might brighten, or what impact you might have. At the end of the day, you may even find yourself with a deeper appreciation of Christmas Carols, or your own personal equivalent.

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