By Beth Trissel

Caroling, a Christmas tradition contemplated with nostalgia and fondness can be, in reality, an exhausting ordeal for the carolers as well as the carolees. One December, many moons ago, my husband cleaned the poultry manure out of our big farm truck so that the young parents and children from our church could brighten that wintry evening for the elderly and shut-ins.
Bundled against the frosty air, we clambered into the back of the truck. Some of the less agile women and small children had to be lifted by a few of the husky men and pitched into the bed, still redolent of turkeys (the truck, not the women and children). Then my husband revved up the motor and off we lurched into the starry night, singing merrily.

As our crowd of carolers overwhelmed the smaller homes and apartments, some of the shut-ins had to be assisted out of their cozy chairs, or warm beds (at least one was down for the night, or so they’d thought) to stand on frigid porches, leaning on canes, clutching a shawl to their shoulders, to smile and wave, expressing their pleasure that yet another group brimming with Yuletide cheer had remembered them. I wondered if they later requested that the church remove their names from the list of shut-ins.

Those individuals with ample room invited us in for refreshments, insisting we share the trove of cookies we and other groups had brought them. It wasn’t long before the children launched into sugar highs and we adults, who hated to disappoint our hosts, began to feel rather ill from all the Christmas treats we'd consumed--worsened by the jouncing truck.

And then there was the problem with our route. Not having planned it very efficiently, a member of our zealous band would suddenly remember some neglected soul across town which meant a long chilly ride in the teeth of the biting wind. Despite our exhaustion and rising queasiness, we felt compelled to push ever forward, dragging our fussy children along, to bring the joy of Christmas at last to the needy folk in the nursing home. As we trooped up the hall, I overheard one elderly resident, weary but resigned, comment, “We’ve had carolers every night this week.”
Her friend turned to her saying, “But it means so much to them, dear.”


  1. Mary Marvella // December 10, 2007 at 11:10 PM  

    Sounds like Hallmark material! I've been on a few hayrides, myself.