T HE STAR SINGERS
When my children were young, we read about an old tradition that existed in various parts of Europe since the Middle Ages. Groups of children and young people would go house to house singing Christmas carols and sometimes collecting donations for charitable purposes.
So we started doing it too. In the beginning, it took a lot of courage to ring the doorbells, and we got used to gruff “Who are you?” questions over the intercom. Our answer was an enthusiastic “We are the Star Singers, here to sing for you and wish you a merry Christmas!” Almost always, doors would open and people would gather to listen, clap, and exchange greetings. Many remembered the old tradition and thanked us for bringing the spirit of Christmas to their homes. We got to meet and spend time with lonely people, the elderly, and the ill.
A couple of times, we got stuck in the elevators of apartment buildings and just kept on singing till somebody found a way to get us out. Once, we witnessed how two neighbors who hadn’t been on speaking terms for years forgave each other and wished each other a merry Christmas!
As the years went by, other children and young people would join in, and even some of my grandchildren. No one was a musical professional. The only requirement was to be full of Christmas joy.
One Christmas Eve, some of our guitar strings broke, and things weren’t going so smoothly. But that was the time when one of the most touching encounters happened. We met a man with a leg in a cast, who hadn’t been able to do his usual Christmas Eve party because of his condition and was very sad. We ended up singing for him a cappella, and he showed us pictures of his loved ones who lived far away. When we left, he told us it was the best Christmas Eve he’d had in a long time.
Anna Perlini is a cofounder of Per un Mondo Migliore, a humanitarian organization active in the Balkans since 1995.