A Christmas Caroling Adventure

Christmas in Honduras! Forget the turkey, piles of presents, snow, and Santa--those are American traditions. Here we have tamales, fireworks, and of course, the usual heat! But there are some things about Christmas that are universal. As I remember the great variety of Christmases I've celebrated, both near and far, one particular memory always comes to mind.

It was Christmas 1997. I was a senior in high school, and we'd just finished our annual Christmas Concert at Raleigh Christian Academy. I'd gone with a group of friends to Miami Subs afterwards. As we finished eating, we realized we still didn't have to be home for a few hours. What should we do?

We discussed a number of pranks on teachers and fellow classmates. But then someone suggested, "Hey, since we're all dressed up, why don't we go Christmas caroling?"

We stopped off at the Dollar Tree to purchase taper candles and matches, then excitedly drove to the first house. We arranged ourselves in front of the porch steps and began to belt out: "Joy to the World!" The family hurried to the door to enjoy our repetoire of familiar carols. This was fun! What a great idea!

We stopped at house after house, some family members, some church friends, to wish them a "Merry Christmas" in song. One of our last stops was Pastor Rabon's house. As we were leaving, our curfew quickly nearing, he commented, "You know, you should go sing for Mr. and Mrs. Thiede."

"Do they still go to our church?" I had not seen them in quite awhile. Don and Audrey Thiede were an elderly couple that had been friends and neighbors of my grandparents for years, but their health had declined greatly; they didn't get out much anymore.

"Yes, they still live over there on Folger Street," Pastor said. "I think they'd really appreciate a visit."

When we got back to the car, we discussed going to their house. "But we need to be home soon!" "Isn't it too late? They probably go to bed really early." Finally, we agreed to make the Thiedes' house our final stop that night.

A few minutes later, we nervously positioned ourselves in front of the front door and began to sing, "O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant!" After the first stanza, the door slowly opened, and there stood Mr. and Mrs. Thiede, arm in arm. I almost didn't recognize him. He was pale and thin from sickness. They were both beaming however, and listened eagerly to the familiar carols.

As we finished the last song, someone shyly asked, "Do you have a request?"

Mrs. Thiede replied, "Would you sing 'Silent Night'? That's my husband's favorite."

Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright,
'Round yon virgin, mother and child,
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace!

Mr. and Mrs. Thiede thanked us with tear-filled eyes, and we quietly left. How glad we were that we had stopped by! It was the perfect end to a special night.

The next morning at school, we excitedly told our classmates about our Christmas caroling adventure the night before. Then the bell rang, and we busied ourselves with English Literature. Toward the end of first period, the announcements were read over the intercom: Christmas parties, exams, special events. We began cramming our literature books into our bookbags, ready to head to second period. But the final announcement halted our hasty exit. "Please be in prayer for the family of Mr. Don Thiede, who passed away last night in his sleep. The funeral will be held...."

We looked at each other in shock. He passed away last night? But we just saw him! Our hearts were heavy for Mrs. Audrey, and we wondered how she was doing.

But as I reflected on that night's events, I was so thankful that we had gone to see him. I prayed that on his final night on earth, Mr. Thiede had truly been able to "sleep in heavenly peace" only to open his eyes in the presence of his Savior, the One Who had come as a baby for him.
6 Responses
  1. Martha Johns Says:

    This gives me chills. We never know what one act of kindness will mean so much to someone. What a blessing! What a memory! Aren't you glad you made time?!?

    Love and Prayers to you all!

  2. Kathy Says:

    Wow! I never heard that story. Brought back a lot of memories. They were good neighbors. What a blessing you all must have been to them. Well told.

    The video does a great job summarizing so much of last year.

    Aunt Kathy

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Wow! That is amazing God put's us just where we need to be right on time. Thanks for sharing.

    Coats family

  4. Anonymous Says:

    There is not a Christmas that goes by now that I don't think of that night when we went caroling. Hearing that announcement the next day was truly shocking. We really never know who we may touch. I'm so glad the Rabon's sent us there that night. Miss you girl!


  5. Ricky Says:

    Wow, that's a good one. I am constantly amazed at how God weaves the fabric of our lives into the people around us.

  6. Kimberly Grainger Says:

    Oh, man, what a flood of memories you've conjured! How many times I passed their house, or visited w/their granddaughter in it! The Thiedes were dear folks, and so loving to us. How precious to touch eternity in such a sweet moment.

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