The place smelled like apple juice, graham crackers and Elmer’s glue. A little bell was tied around my wrist with a pipe cleaner (one of those sparkly metallic ones, green). The pipe cleaner was itchy and I fidgeted with it as I turned my lyric book to “Deck the Halls.” My friends and I were singing carols to about 15 preschoolers, two teachers and a few innocent bystanders.

We were by no means professionals. We were just a bunch of high school students, most of whom had never sung in front of other people, but caroling seemed like a fun way to earn community service credit for school. Besides, all of our other options involved work in the freezing rain. In truth, we sounded horrible. (Later, when my mother heard us sing on WXDU, the best compliment she could give was: “After the first few verses, you were all mostly in the same key.”)

As we prepared to sing “Frosty the Snow Man,” a girl joined us from the audience. I knelt down so she could see my lyrics. Soon a little boy came up and took my book from me. He held it out so all three of us could see it, and whispered to me that he was very helpful. “Definitely,” I whispered back.

I kneeled there, watching the two kids cheerfully mumble along. After a few songs, the rest of the children decided they wanted to sing to us, so we (the chorus) sat on the floor and watched a group of 4- and 5-year-olds completely outdo us. They even had choreography. When they finished, we all smiled and said our goodbyes. On the bus ride home, the holiday force was strong with us. We started to sing again, not for an audience this time, just for each other–just because we felt like singing, and I’ve been humming “Deck the Halls” ever since. –Sarah Plonski