The first year I hosted the dinner, I prepared way too much food. The day after, I spontaneously called up a few friends and invited them to come to help us eat the leftovers, and suggested we could go out Christmas caroling before the meal. Most everyone accepted with enthusiasm. But one couple asked if they could come to the meal but skip the singing. Knowing that we lived in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, they were concerned that our neighbors would be offended by the carols.
But I was a little nervous now! Should we be careful about our song choices? Should we ask if people want us to sing before we start? We would be caroling in a condominium community. We didn't really know any of our neighbors. Would people be angry with us?
When the guests started arriving, they were so excited about going out to sing to the neighbors that I got caught up in their joy and forgot all about my concerns.
We began singing as soon as we were out the door and one by one, people came out onto their balconies and porches and clapped for us. As we walked and sang, we were received with so much appreciation. No one had ever thought to go out and sing on the sidewalks of our complex before!
Again, quite spontaneously, we began to invite people to join in the caroling and to come for dinner at our place. Several happily accepted.
My two late-coming friends were waiting for us at the house when we all came back pink-faced and famished after our jaunt. The neighbors who came home with us were all Jewish.
We spent a wonderful evening getting to know one another and this was the first of what became an annual Christmas tradition - caroling for and sharing a meal with the neighborhood. And the couple who were initially reluctant were among the first to accept the invitation to sing to whomever would listen in the years to come!
When your heart is in the right place, and your motive is to spread joy and love, you can trust that your actions will be received in the best spirit.
Happy Hanukkah to our dear Jewish friends and neighbors!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing.
"No more let sin and sorrow grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
Where'er he comes, his blessings flow,
And hope and joy abound.
"He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of his righteousness
And wonders of his love."