As part of my responsibilities in working my musical magic with the elderly, I tend to be the coordinator of different musical groups throughout the year. During the Christmas season, I feel like I am flooded with requests to come and sing at the facility where I work. I sometimes get frustrated because I would love to have this kind of community participation throughout the year, and not just during the Christmas holidays. However, I am also very grateful that there are groups that want to share the spirit of the holiday with those residents that are so often forgotten.
Tonight, I was walking a group of 20 through the halls, as they were singing some Christmas tunes. This group consisted of about 5 adults and 15 children. As we approached the end of a hall, a couple family members of a resident approached us. They asked us if we would be willing to come into the room and sing, as the resident was not expected to live past the next couple days. Normally, we do not allow groups to enter the rooms but because it was a family request, I agreed. When I reached the inside of the room, I could see that this man would not last long and I felt such sorrow for him and his family. Losing a loved one, regardless of age, around the holidays is such a hard thing. The group gathered around his bed and sang “Away in a Manger,” all three verses. This man did not have much of a response, as is typical during the last of the dying process. His sons were visibly in tears as the words of the final verse were sung. I, too, had a hard time controlling my emotions as we left that room.
“Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me for ever and love me, I pray
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care
And take us to Heaven to live with Thee there.”
The group left the room very quietly and after we finished through the halls, a couple of the adults approached me and commented on what a special moment to have witnessed.
I know that I will not forget this moment soon. The gates of heaven were close at hand tonight as the children sang this very special Christmas hymn.
Christmas is usually my favorite time of the year. There are lights, trees, music, community togetherness, family togetherness, and just a very special spirit about the holidays. I have loved this time of year for much of my life. This year, I have felt like a bit of a Scrooge. I have felt that all of the preparation, rehearsals, performances, lessons, etc. were just a little too much. I wanted to just forget the whole thing. I have arranged, taught, rehearsed, performed, and recorded Christmas music this year with students from 6-99. I have been fairly grumpy the entire time. I have been stressed for months and all the requirements of a musician during Christmas just overwhelmed me this year.
Christmas needs to mean something. The new year needs to mean something. The holidays in general need to mean something. Life needs to mean something. Life is not just a mad dash to the finish, although it tends to feel that way sometimes. Tonight, I was reminded that this life does indeed mean something. If a group of small children can bring a small measure of comfort to a grieving family, then this season does mean something.
Are you making this magical time of year mean something or are you hiding trying to avoid the lot of it? I challenge you to do something for someone else. Make a difference. Be the change that you are looking to find.