While the streets showed no hint of white, our freezing hands and frosty breath told us it was cold enough to snow. Cotton capped and wrapped up tight, my family was enjoying our traditional Christmas Eve caroling. My parents and all 10 of us children had made it home for the holidays.
We had ended our family home evening that week by practicing the carols we wished to sing that year. Balancing the guitar on his knee, my father practiced the chords he would struggle to play in the frigid night. No one would ever line up to see my nine siblings, parents, and me sing; yet, undaunted, year after year, we wanted to share our Christmas spirit.
This year we had chosen to sing to some of our ward friends to thank them for their friendship and fellowship. The names on our list were crossed off one by one. A few of the families weren’t home, so we finished our planned visits early. My dad asked my mother if she knew of anyone else we should visit before returning home for hot chocolate. My mother’s eyes lit up after a moment’s thought. She felt impressed to visit the Ramage family.
The Ramages were a sweet couple, grayed with maturity and experience. Brother Ramage had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. We thought at first that it might be too late to visit, but, persuaded by my mother’s urgings, we filed into our van and headed to our destination.
Tiptoeing in the quiet night air, we gathered around the front porch of the Ramage’s simple home while my younger brother rang the doorbell. To our surprise, Sister Ramage, wrapped in a flannel shawl, answered the door almost immediately. Startled by her quick appearance, we falteringly began singing “Silent Night.” After croaking our way through “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” we were surprised to see a single chilled tear hanging on Sister Ramage’s cheek. After we sang, she gave us cookies while she visited with my mother.
Our parents later told us that Brother and Sister Ramage had bravely confronted the doctor’s grim diagnosis. So on that Christmas Eve, just a few months before Brother Ramage would pass away, Sister Ramage had been especially troubled in her heart, anticipating the loss of her husband. Unable to sleep and struggling in spirit, she retired to the dark of their living room. Sitting near the door, she needed little time to respond when the bell rang. As unimpressive as our family choir was, it meant a great deal to her. Seeing our family huddled together reminded her of the promise of an eternal family.
That Sunday, as we wandered into the chapel before sacrament meeting, our eyes fell to where Brother and Sister Ramage sat together. Sister Ramage’s eyes sparkled. She welcomed us with a bright smile that warmed my spirit. Never had I expected our musical effort to be an answer to someone’s prayer.
I realized that a lot of good things can take place through seemingly unimpressive means, like our family’s caroling. The Savior came into the world in humble circumstances. In both cases, the true beauty was in the gift given, and such gifts are what make Christmas meaningful.