By Megan Wirts
“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!” - Buddy The Elf
Christmas songs carry some of my most favorite and treasured memories. I love them all. When I was a little girl I would belt out any song at the top of my lungs anytime, but at Christmas time I went into overdrive. This remains true to this day, not many things have changed. I may still burst out into “O Holy Night” at any time during the season.
That one’s my most favorite. So much drama, so beautiful and if the acoustics are just right...mmm...chills down my spine. Every year I tell my friends and family that I will write and produce my dream show called, “The Megan Wirts Christmas Spectacular!”. A little music, a little comedy, a few sparkly dresses, a bunch of guest stars, and a lot of me in said sparkly dresses. Since this seems like it might cost money that I don’t currently have, my next best option is to go Christmas Caroling at the local nursing homes.
A few weeks ago I created a Facebook event and invited anyone and everyone to join me. I was pretty excited about the initial buzz. It looked like I was going to have quite the group to spread some holiday cheer. I made a list of my favorite songs, typed up all the lyrics and had little song books made. I was ready!
The day came and people started dropping like flies. Even my own daughter was trying to get out of it. Like most good mothers though, I threw out some major guilt and forced her to go. My mom joined us and the three of us, donning our finest holiday apparel, headed over to Fountainview Retirement Village of Grant and were met with three other happy faces to sing with us. One of whom had broken her arm the night before. Now that is commitment!
The people of Fountainview seemed to really enjoy our little group as they ate their lunch and we sang classics like, “Let it Snow” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”. Even when I started “The First Noel” in a key that only opera singers should try, and the six of us strained to hit those high notes, they clapped and smiled. It was a great start to the day!
After we finished the festivities at Fountainview, two of our six singers had other commitments, plus one had a new broken arm, so they headed on their merry way. I had considered going to area businesses and just busting out into song, but with so few in number, we felt a bit awkward. Instead we opted for lunch at The River Stop Cafe in Newaygo. With our tummies full, fueled with caffeine and a few hours in between our next nursing home visit, we decided to do a little local shopping at 37 North and Market 41. Some Christmas presents were purchased and we got our photo taken with Santa (who, by the way, knew my name and said I was on the nice list) then we headed on to Fremont to the Newaygo Medical Care Facility.
My grandmother is 93 years old ,has Alzheimer’s disease and has lived at the Newaygo Medical Care Facility for a couple years now. She doesn’t recognize us anymore, but she knows we belong to her when we visit. She also loves to sing and dance, mostly dance, and she always loved to sing with me. I remember being a very tiny girl and we would sit on her double swing and sing “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean” and rock back and forth as if we were on a boat. She may not remember rocking with me, but she does remember the words to that song.
When we arrived in Fremont, we went back to the memory care unit where grandma lives and got ready to sing. We were greeted warmly by most of the residents. One of them was not in the mood and obviously at the point in her life where she just says what she feels. She called us jackasses as we left.
More power to her! But like I said, most of them were happy to see us. They sang along and asked us to come back again someday. As we were leaving, we were stopped by some staff members and asked if we would continue our caroling in the atrium because the group that was scheduled to appear never showed up. We were more than happy to help!
Waiting for us, was a large group of residents ready to sing some Christmas Carols! I was super happy to have plenty of song books to pass around to everyone.Then we had ourselves a good old fashioned sing-a-long. The highlight for me was when one resident busted out into a solo during Jingle Bells and we all cheered.
We were a small but mighty group and the joy that we felt afterwards was tremendous. Even my angsty teenage daughter was happy that I made her come along. I’m so thankful to those that joined us and I hope next year is even more spectacular.
May your holidays be merry and bright and may you be filled with the joy of the season.