One holiday season when I was in high school I got it in my head that I would like to go caroling. The idea struck me at about 7:30pm on a Friday night in December while I was sleeping over at one of my best friend’s house. I had never gone caroling before and it just seemed like such a cheerful thing to do. It also felt romantic to me—like something from a bi-gone era. I missed that era! I could see it so clearly in my minds eye– the big full woolen skirts and coats of the time. Was I wearing a bonnet too? 🙂
At least where I grew up in the suburbs of Minnesota never once did we have carolers come to our house to sing for us. But, I thought, “Wouldn’t that be cool if we did!?Wouldn’t it be such a joy to open the door and have a group of people spreading Christmas cheer?” I think that is how I got it in my head one year to BE the Christmas cheer. “Even if no one else was doing it—we could!”I tried to convince my best friend to come with me.
“Just one song!?” I pleaded with her. She wasn’t even moved in the slightest.
Basically she was like, “No way am I doing that!” But I thought it sounded so fun. So . . . I decided to go alone.
It was a cold night around 8pm. The ground was covered in snow (as it always is in MN this time of year—or used to be anyway!). I put on my coat, boots, hat, mittens and walked out her front door crunching on the packed snow of the street and breathing out wafts of steamy white air in the otherwise silent suburban night. There was a street that ran perpendicular to my girlfriend’s that started across from her house. I walked toward it and knocked on the door of the first house I came upon.
When one middle-aged man came to the door I started to sing! I can’t even remember what I sang! What I do remember was that it sounded terrible! I was totally off key and my voice crackled from nerves and well, maybe I couldn’t really keep a tune! I don’t know—all I ever did was sing along to the radio – not sing in public– and certainly not alone.
Needless to say the end result was not the cheery romantic vision I had in my head. In my mind I DEFINITELY held a fur muff. 🙂 In reality I was in my green Guess jeans, long underwear, and a leather jacket. And the sound of my solo off-key singing was echoing off of the pavement on this man’s doorstep and overhang.
Still, nowhere in my bones did I think, “I’m just going to stop singing and run away now!” I was like, “Oh my god this sucks. But it’s only a song– it’s not that long. I can do this.” And maybe, “This is a stranger. I’ll never see him again.” 🙂
The man must have thought he woke up in the Twilight zone! Solo girl teenager singing him a Christmas carol on a random Friday night. Certainly he probably thought I did it on a dare or that I was drunk or something or that I had friends waiting in the bushes! Not so. My best friend was snuggly inside her house down the street not even looking out the window to witness my hair-brained impulse. I was also totally sober. I don’t remember much about the man’s appearance except for the slight, definitely amused smile he had on his face as I gave my in-ter-es-ting performance.
At the end of my one carol I smiled, waved, and then sped off into the night! Laughing all the way I made a run back through the crackling snow for my girlfriend’s house.
But here is the thing– even though I completely bombed– it was an exhilarating and deeply satisfying experience. I still remember it fondly and with chortles. But even that night I was like, “Okay that didn’t go how I pictured it in my mind! But still I did it!I didn’t just sit around thinking it would be a fun and good idea.” I did something about it. Namely I got clear on the fact that I don’t own a fur muff or long woolen skirts, nor have a friend who would be interested in caroling with me, and I can’t sing a tune!
Still, I’d do it all over again!
So as we round out the year and move toward beginning another– as the longest nights and shortest days of the year are upon us I say, even so– take a chance when you need to! The worst you can do is bomb! It’s okay to make a fool out of yourself from time to time. Sometimes it’s even more satisfying and definitely more memorable than doing nothing at all.