Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Eve Memory (that will last forever.)

(My family on Christmas eve ready to carol.)

Many years ago (maybe 20 or so) my parents wanted to do something on Christmas Eve for other people. With my dad being in school we had very little money so giving gifts to a family in need seemed out of the question. Instead they decided that their small family would go see some of the people who had to work on Christmas Eve who may be missing their families. To these people we would sing christmas carols and deliver a small token of our appreciation for their service to our community, a loaf of my moms blue ribbon wheat bread.

We went to the fire department and police station and caroled to them and thanked them for working to keep up safe year round. They seemed to really appreciate our visit and even gave us a tour of the fire department. Over the next few years it became a family tradition to go carol to the fire department and every year they were waiting for us. We also added to our route a small number of neighbors and friends we would go sing to and give a loaf of bread, our holiday gift to them.

Then we moved from Columbus to New Philadelphia. When that christmas eve came around we went to home teachers/ visiting teachers/ neighbors and friends, not the fire department, police department or anywhere else where people were working. Many people looked forward to it, others didn't seem to appreciate it as much, but we still went because it was tradition. The amount of people we delivered bread to increased significantly and my poor mom dreaded christmas eve as she knew she would spend her day making over 20 loaves of bread.

Now we are all a little older. All of the older kids have been in "elite" choirs and have a pretty good ear for picking out and singing harmony. So we gathered everyone in the piano room this year to learn our parts so we could sing "Silent Night" in 4 part harmony. It sounded good and we were ready to go blow away the people we normally carol to.

Before we left I made the comment about how we use to go to the fire department. Elizabeth, my 11 year old sister, wasn't born when we lived in Columbus and didn't even know that is where we use to go. My brother Bryant had said he wanted to do something for someone else on Christmas eve, something special, but we couldn't think of anyone who really needed anything. Then my dad suggested "Why don't we go to the hospital (where he works) and sing to the nurses and patients who are there." We all loved the idea, and off we went.

On our way we sang carols and realized that between the four oldest kids we had learned all 4 parts to "Carol of the Bells" and practiced so we could add that to our performance as well. When we go to the hospital we went up the the second floor where my dads patients were. We walked through the halls and sang "Silent Night," "Joy to the World," "Hark The Harold Angels Sing," "Carol of the Bells," and "We Wish You and Merry Christmas" all with beautiful harmonies. We saw tears in the eyes of some of the nurses, one came up and gave my dad a hug. She thanked him for bringing his family on Christmas eve. We knew they appreciated our small act of kindness. We all felt so good inside. Then we went to the ER and sang to them. They sang a long with us and it was like a scene from a movie. It was really neat, and we felt like we were spreading "christmas cheer."

But then a little inspiration hit my father. My grandfather had a friend named Jack who he has know since the 1950's. He served with Patton's Army in the Battle of Bulge in WWII. He met my grandfather serving in the air national guard and they have been friends ever since. He is 90 years old and a patient of my fathers. In fact, he was very sick earlier in the week. His wife was very worried and thought he was dying. My dad fixed him up and got him home two days prior to Christmas eve. He lives about 15 minutes away from the hospital and my dad said "why don't we go see Jack and Hope." We all though that would be a great idea and off we went.

When we got there we sang all our songs and Hope had tears in her eyes. They invited us in for a few minutes. When we got inside my mom asked Jack how he was feeling and he just sobbed. I'm not sure what was running through his mind but you could tell he was touched that we had thought of them that night. He gave us all hugs and kisses, told us some stories about "Mac" (my grandpa's nickname.) His wife thanked us over and over again and told us how grown up we all were. All I wanted to do was cry. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude, with the spirit of Christmas and the joy that overcomes you when you do something for someone else.

We had wanted to do something for someone else and we had. We knew we had truly made their Christmas eve special and they had made ours one we would never forget. It seems such a small act but it has changed me just a little. I always want to find that person who needs us on christmas eve, who may be alone or sick or working and not with their family.

What a gift/blessing it is to be with your whole family on Christmas. To have not only your parents, siblings and spouse but your grandparents with you as well. I feel so blessed to be 24 and still have all my grandparents, aunts, uncles siblings, ect in good health and alive. I have always felt this way, but this year I felt it so much stronger. I love my crazy family and our silly ways. I loved having them all together and I love all the memories we made.