On Christmas Eve it began to snow. No one believed it at first; Christmas snow is very rare here and usually the hot air from our nation’s capital a few miles away keeps it too warm. But it was Christmas Eve and it was snowing, late in the afternoon before all the light was gone, a snowglobe snow that stopped us in our bustlings and meltdowns and general atmosphere of excited dread.

It was just magical. The children were old enough not to count on snow and young enough to think of it as entirely fitting. And...

On Christmas Eve it began to snow. No one believed it at first; Christmas snow is very rare here and usually the hot air from our nation’s capital a few miles away keeps it too warm. But it was Christmas Eve and it was snowing, late in the afternoon before all the light was gone, a snowglobe snow that stopped us in our bustlings and meltdowns and general atmosphere of excited dread.

It was just magical. The children were old enough not to count on snow and young enough to think of it as entirely fitting. And they were old enough to know some songs and young enough not to be embarrassed all that much by their parents.

“Let’s go caroling,” I said.

We’d unpacked the Santa hats; they and various wreaths of those silver sleigh bells were already lost around the house. Once the children decided to go with me they scooted around to find them and their misplaced gloves and discarded jackets.

I sent everybody to the bathroom.

By the time everyone was zipped up there was a lively discussion of who we’d sing to and what we’d sing. We set off down our block to “Rudolph.”

“Rudolph” is not a Christmas carol. Neither is “Jingle Bells,” and I much prefer the Oxford Book. But as much as I’m that sort of traditionalist, children are traditionalists to the core. They knew “Rudolph”; they’d sung it last Christmas, and “Rudolph” it was. Down the street we went; our neighbors had finished their last errands and turned on their tree lights and the ones strung through now-whitening bushes.

We stuck to that first song all the way down the street, singing to our octogenarian friend the former G-man and to the house-sharing young renters who weren’t for once throwing a kegger and came to the door to sing along. That year we had some new neighbors from China; we sang to them. “Dickens!” said the dad. “Not quite,” I said, though the urchin element was pretty strong once children began to lose their mittens and complain of streaming noses.

We made our way through “Jingle Bells” and a stab at “The First Nowell,” and halfway up the other side of the block some children who had seen us coming had their coats and mittens on and joined up. At the next house, we took a request for “Silent Night”; by that time people were standing in their doorways and singing along.

When we got to the end of the cul-de-sac, the group of us stopped to look at the snow falling through the streetlights. Singing, we walked across the park’s whitened grass to the bridge. The deer in a thicket were so surprised by the weather and then by us that they just watched us till we turned away to head home. “They’ll talk at midnight,” said one of the children.

This article was originally published in The Spectator’s December 2022 World edition.