Sunday, December 30, 2012


Gailanne Amundsen sent out an invitation for her annual Christmas Caroling. As she said, "This is how it works....we pick a place, bring cookies, apple cider, good shoes, a pal, a flashlight, and then we all mob up and sing house to house. it's always great so you should come!" I drove up to Mockingbird Lane in Altamonte Springs and parked behind a big yellow family van that had just parked. Gailanne piled out holding Maya, Julie Norris's child. Everyone mingled in the driveway. It was Gailanne's grandmothers house and her brother in law was working in the garage. He was busy planing and sanding a kitchen counter top.I figured it would be difficult to sketch carolers who would sing one song at each house and then move on, so I decided to sketch them as they mingled around the cookies and cider. The carolers soon left, but I decided to finish the sketch.

The motorcycle was a recent purchase and it was bought for a song. This family had a wild assortment of pets. Two tortoises were brought out so that their plastic wading pool could be cleaned. Holes were drilled into the bottom of a plastic garbage can and the water from the pool was poured in. The garbage can made a perfect sieve, catching all the solid detritus. White rats and some mice, were in glass aquariums. The rats were fed to a snake inside the house. The male rat understood his fate when he was put in with the snake. He jumped and struggled to find a way out. For some reason, the snake refused to eat the panicked rat.

With the sketch done, I walked the suburban streets in search of the carolers. I used my GPS to follow their most likely route. At several intersections, I just had to guess which way they went. I figured I had a 50% chance of finding them. When I got to Lemonwood Court, I was shocked to see that every house had an amazing assortment of Christmas lights. It was overwhelming. Although it was a dead end, I had to walk down this winter wonderland. Arches covered in lights invited me to down the sidewalk stroll. Soon enough, I found the carolers. Of course they were here. I joined them singing carols. Maya and another girl would go up to each door and ring the doorbell before we sang. Strangely although the house was covered in lights, no one came to the door. This happened repeatedly. Our luck changed when a bus driver stopped beside us and asked us directions to the lighting display. It was a bus from a retirement home, and we sang to the passengers parked curbside.

From that point on, people came to their doors and windows, grateful for the Christmas cheer. It was fun finding my voice in the harmonies. Cookies and hot cyder greeted us on the table in the driveway when we got back. This was a Christmas tradition well worth repeating.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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