Activated - - NEWS - By Anna Per­lini

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.

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