High Variance

Neighborhood Caroling

Our neighborhood is so awesome. For the last three years (at least) on the evening before Halloween nearly all the kids gather for the Pumpkin Parade. Everyone wears their costumes and brings their carved pumpkins in a wagon or a stroller and we all proceed to march around the block. Afterward we have hot cider and cookies and catch up with our friends.

This summer a new neighbor hosted the world’s greatest barbecue block party. There was terrific turnout and highlights included a hammock filled with up to 10 little girls at any given moment, a sunshine piñata, and a giant cannoli. The party gave birth to an email list which spawned a Facebook group which then led to last week’s first annual neighborhood Christmas caroling. We are positively swimming in social capital!

About 40 kids and grown ups arrived at Cathy and John’s house at 5:45 for cookies and hot cocoa and some warm up songs. R especially enjoyed belting out The Twelve Days of Christmas as she had been practicing it over dinner all week. Then we all walked and sang along the Pumpkin Parade route and finished with even more cookies and cocoa.

In the interests of making a super-fun event even better next year, I’ve done some thinking and I’ve got some ideas:

  • Plan on singing a lot of songs. We had a printout of about 7 that didn’t last long enough and folks weren’t ready to repeat them after the first round. And very few people knew more than the first verse of even the most popular carols.

  • Suggest that folks download a caroling app that has lyrics. I think the best one is Sing Along to 50+ Christmas Carols but it’s $4.99 which might be more than most folks (not me!) want to spend. It’s got the music and big fonts and karaoke style moving lyrics. A cheaper option is Christmas Carols for 99 cents that has they lyrics for more than 100 songs but no fancy graphics. The best part about having an app is that it only requires one hand–you don’t need a hand for the lyric printout and another for the flashlight.

  • Have someone in front that sets a slow pace. Our group quickly spread out such that the back couldn’t hear what the front was singing.

  • Put up signs so everyone in the neighborhood knows it’s happening. One of the best parts of the experience was when families would come out on their stoops to listen.

  • Pick a charity and collect money for it along the way. This might make some people uncomfortable, but I think it would be worth it. Certainly to the folks who would receive the donations would appreciate it and this seems like a great opportunity to exercise (not exorcise) the Christmas spirit.

Merry Christmas everyone!