On Monday I took my daughter's brownie troop to a retirement/nursing home near our school. This is our fourth year of going in December to sing Christmas carols and spread some good cheer.
For some of the 3rd grade girls this is there only exposure to the older generation. They have no grandparents or great grandparents living or living nearby and thus don't get the joy of interacting with these wonderful people very often. We make cards for the residents, and pass them out at the end of our program so that they can see the girls up close and personal. I ask that the girls dress up a little bit for this event; no jeans etc. There is nothing grandmother types like seeing more than little girls in dresses.
I've learned some very valuable lessons through the years I thought I would share..
* Traditional Christmas Carols trump those frosty the snowman songs every time. The faces of the residents light up when we sing "Silent Night " or " Angels We Have Heard on High". They sing along and it's almost as if you can see them go back in time to another place or Christmas memory. I've noticed even the non verbal types mouth the words or hum along.
* If we sing off key or miss a few of the words it's ok. I'm not a singer. I love to sing, but perfect pitch is not something I understand. For the past few years we've sung along with a piano player, this year our location changed in the building and we had no piano to use. Guess who had to start out every song. Good thing many of the residents wear hearing aides and couldn't catch my tone. They thought we sounded like angels.
* Seeing a friendly face and hearing children laugh can brighten any day. These ladies and one gentleman loved every minute of our 35 minute performance. They smiled and giggled and did not want to leave afterward. What took so little time, energy and effort on our part is now one of their highlights of the week.
* It's always ok to say Merry Christmas. In this group it's not Happy Holidays or Spirit of the Season, it's Merry Christmas. They might not all celebrate the season withe Jesus like we do but everyone accepts that December 25th is Christmas. I no longer go along with the politically correct way and alway say we are hear for Christmas and we sing all three verses of "Joy to the World" and "Away in the Manger".
I am blessed to have a 96 year old grandmother still here on earth. She lives in a nursing home across town. While it's hard to carry on a conversation with her as her hearing is bad and her memory is short; I now go just to hold hands with her. To sit up close and rub her back and tell her how blessed I am to have had memories of her and grandpa stored in my head. I remind her of these long ago days and try to fill in the details of today.
I decided this week after my visit with her that next week I'm bringing a scrapbook. We can look and not need to talk, just enjoy the company. While I sometimes think I'm too busy, or it's too much of a hassle to go I think God enlightened me this week to how much just 15-45 minutes of my time might brighten her day, her week and mine too.
I want for my children to have an appreciation for the older generation. Their grandparents are still young and active in their minds, but a day will come when they no longer are. We are going to soak up the moments now that so that when Nana and Papa are sitting in the rocking chair my kids will have memories to share with them while holding their hands. Precious memories and moments.