The 2020 holiday season differed from past experiences. Many of the usual activities adjusted to keep ourselves and others safe under the existing COVID-19 guidelines. We canceled plans to gather in person or they morphed into virtual events or some hybrid version.
My son’s church members planned to sing Christmas carols at a local nursing home but they could not come in the building and sing in the activity center or along the hallways. Instead, they planned to sing outside the windows to the residents, many of whom reportedly had not ventured outside their rooms since March 2020.
This long period of isolation meant some residents eagerly anticipated window visitors, especially if it involved children. My husband and I accompanied my son and his children and took our other 2 grandchildren along. There were more children than adults but 2 of the grown-ups did dress in costume; one was a reindeer, and the other wore a Santa suit. (I wasn’t one of them.)
As we arrived, we were each given a battery-powered candle and a songbook to help with words. They guided us to our assigned group of residents. Our area was one-third of three halls that all overlooked the same yard area. In this u-shaped space, we had the far end and two other caroling groups had the left and right halls. The group to our left had already started at the corner nearest the road, so we went to the far left corner of our hall so as not to compete with their singing as we both proceeded clockwise.
The residents wanting carolers were to have their lights on and curtains open. Empty rooms or those not wanting to take part would have rooms darkened. If any curtain was closed, we were to sing anyway because the staff may be attending to the resident and giving them privacy. While they may not see the cherubic faces of children and costumed adults, the sounds of the season would still be transmitted.
The residents in the first two rooms seemed genuinely receptive. They waved and sang along…or seemed to. One thing I noticed almost immediately was that we were definitely NOT the Von Trapp family. But we were equal opportunity singers in that we sang all the keys at the same time.
As we moved from room to room, we came upon one with the curtains drawn, but the lights were on. Per the instructions, we stopped and started our caroling. Suddenly, the lights went off. The suddenness of it shocked us into silence, then laughter. Perhaps our off-key singing was just too much without the cute kids to look at.
In the end, our grandchildren had a great time, and we made great memories…making a joyful noise!