Caroling For Cash
I was running late Saturday night on my way to see “The Favourite” at the Lynnhaven cinemas. We’d been on separate Christmas errands and my husband was there already, waiting for me.
Naturally, the parking lot was packed. Cars were orbiting slowly, drivers searching for spaces. By the time I found a spot and turned off the ignition I had less than five minutes to be in my seat. Worse, I was parked a football field away from the theaters.
I sprinted most of the way - in heels - and was almost inside when I heard singing. I looked across the plaza and saw what appeared to be a family - a mom, dad and at least three kids - huddled together and singing Christmas songs.
Carolers, I thought, breathlessly. How nice.
I glanced back again as I went through the doors and saw the open guitar case on the pavement in front of them.
They weren’t caroling. They were busking.
In some urban areas buskers are on every corner. Not here. And even in cities with lots of street musicians, I don’t think families are a common sight.
It was cold. It was three nights till Christmas. And they were caroling for cash.
I should have dashed over and dropped something in the case. I know that.
But I didn’t. I was late, they were at least 20 yards away. They could have been con artists. Oh, I can come up with about a million excuses.
But none feel right.
I thought about that family all through the movie. As soon as it was over, I rushed out, looking for them, but they had vanished.
I don’t know who they were, or what circumstances brought them to a bustling mall on a chilly night to sing “Jingle Bells” for strangers.
I’m haunted by them. And feeling guilty.
I hope they’re OK. Especially the children. And I hope other people that night were full of the spirit of Christmas and more thoughtful and generous than I was.