Whatever your religious beliefs, the holiday season is a special time for giving back! As Christians, we celebrate the life and birth of Jesus Christ, who spent His life serving and lifting others. Christmas is a special time for us to serve others. It’s our way of expressing gratitude; our way of giving back.
Every year we like to plan acts of kindness into our Christmas traditions. One of our favorite family traditions is going Christmas caroling to elderly people at local care centers. We’ve done this for nearly 20 years. Each year we put on our Santa hats, Rick pulls out his guitar and off we go. Sometimes we perform concert style, for an audience of elderly residents and other times we go caroling door to door to their individual rooms. Through the years we’ve encountered a wide variety of traveling challenges on our journey to the nursing home: rain, snow, an exploded tire, and even a blizzard! While we don’t claim to be professional by any means, we do enjoy the feeling of making someone’s Christmas just a little bit brighter.
The sweet elderly people clap, dance, smile and thank us profusely, making us feel as if we’ve given them a class act performance. Once in awhile we meet up with an elderly resident who is a little more truthful regarding the quality of our performance. One year, at the conclusion of our final song, most of the patients were clapping and cheering (thus boosting our egos), one resident dared to tell the truth. Just as we were making our grand exit, we heard it – the honest voice – calling out over the cheering crowd, “I hope you do better next time!” Thankfully we don’t take ourselves too seriously and were able to enjoy a good hardy laugh and then consoled ourselves: “At least the rest of them seemed to enjoyed our performance.”
Some of the people we meet at the care centers have family members who come to visit them regularly while others have no one. Some of the residents share stories of their earlier lives, when they were whole and life was prime. Others, having lost the ability to speak, share only a smile and some only share a blank stare. In all cases, each time we visit the elderly, we’ve been filled with a special glow and a knowledge of the worth of each of their souls. Through our service we experience God’s love for each one of our elderly friends. It’s a Christmas miracle and it fills our hearts with an indescribable and addicting joy, – one that brings us back year after year. “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt 25:40).
There are so many ways to serve and bring joy to others during the holidays. This video shows service given around the globe, in 47 countries.
“47 Countries Give Back to Change the World”
This Christmas, reach out and “Share the Gift!”