Happy Advent everyone! What a beautiful time of year to spiritually readjust ourselves.
To celebrate the Christmas season, I decided to go Christmas caroling with the church choir, the members of which decided to visit three rehabilitation centers.What I saw there has changed my focus a bit on giving.
Old Folks’ Home One was clean, well-lit, and comfortable. I couldn’t help but take a second glance at a woman with sunken-in eyes, bundled in blankets. In fact, most of the residents who gathered around to hear the choir were wheelchair-bound. From grandkids to afghans, the residents loved talking to the choir. We listened and replied with a certain tone–pity in some, interest in others–in the moments before and after the visit. Perhaps the most moving moment was seeing an old woman being wheeled in, her eyes wet with tears.
The second place was a lot more saddening than the first. The moment we stepped in, I started warming up and had to take off my jacket. I was surprised to notice that none of the residents were a bit nauseated by the smell. The reaction of the choir is a different story. Later, I heard that most of the residents had no family to visit them. Watching the faces, the smiles, even the tears (again) of our audience, their happiness was apparent to me. It was more than happiness. They had joy. Every pair of eyes had stories to tell. In some, I saw snow and trees. In others, a girl who seemed to be a child crowded around the radio and listened to the news about the war. The residents there decorated candy canes as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and asked a nurse to pass them out to the choir. A woman who seemed to be the healthiest resident was so excited to see our faces. I loved seeing the enthusiasm of the residents, and it was moving to see how they poured their happiness into the choir’s visit.
Sadly, I found the last house draining. The choir stepped into the kitchen because there was no other place for us to sing. Despite this, we did comfortably fit into the house. All of four people listened: two nurses, an old man reading a magazine, and another old man whom everyone thought was asleep.
Yes, I was excited in the first place to sing at the rehabilitation centers, and I do not regret visiting. However, it’s an interesting lesson in my youth to see the personalities of people who are completely on the other ends of their lives. I learned that kind actions are often taken for granted. People often underestimate the power of a face-to-face interaction these days. I cannot even begin to describe the feeling that I have absorbed from old people who do not get visited often. You feel a warm swelling deep inside of your chest, and your eyes suddenly open up and see a great, wondrous light.
That’s the feeling of giving during the season. Do you feel it, too?