Last week, during the final week of classes, as I was waiting to take the elevator in Marguerite Hall, I saw a flyer from Campus Ministry advertising a student caroling party at Mary Agnes Manor (an adult nursing home near campus). I checked the date and time on the flyer; it stated that the caroling party was Wednesday at 1:00 P.M. – the next day! I debated whether or not I should go, because I had a final exam that week to prepare for. When I got to my room I convinced myself to go and immediately sent out a post on Facebook inviting my friends to come with me.
Now some of you may be wondering, “What’s so fun about singing repetitive Christmas songs to a bunch of people who probably don’t even care?” or “I would never go caroling – I can’t even sing on pitch!” Back when I was
growing up in the Midwest, I caroled with members of my church every year, singing to elderly and disabled people. And let me tell you, the people we sang to did not care whether we had an amazing voice or if we sang off-key – or even if we knew all the words! They were just happy that we came. Remembering the smiles on their faces persuaded me this year to take time out of my busy life to join other D’Youville students in caroling.
The next day, at one o’clock, a fairly large group of students, Reverend Jan from Campus Ministry, and I met in the lobby of Mary Agnes Manor to warm-up with the song, “Twelve Days of Christmas” before we started making our rounds to the different floors of the nursing home. As we went from floor to floor, the residents would slowly make their way out of their rooms to listen to our joyous songs. Some would move back and forth to the music, others would join in song, and a few would just close their eyes and listen to the words. Thankfully, Campus Ministry had provided us with words to the Christmas songs, which was useful especially for the quick lyrics in “Sleigh Ride.” One of the nursing home residents asked us to sing his favorite holiday carol, “The Christmas Song.” Even though it was not in our songbook, we were determined to sing it for him. There were a few times we struggled with what words came next, but someone always knew; in the end, the song didn’t sound half bad! We finished back on the first floor singing to the residents who had gathered for a card game. Even though the smiles on the faces of the nursing home residents was enough, they all thanked us for coming out and singing with them.
Although Campus Ministry’s annual Christmas caroling is over for this year, I challenge all of you to do something this season to brighten someone’s day and spread the Christmas cheer. Through helping others, you can lighten your own mood during these winter months as well.
Here are just a few of my favorite ways to spread the Christmas spirit:
1. Bake and give Christmas cookies to friends, family, and neighbors! Here’s my favorite cutout cookie recipe!
2. Donate toys, clothes, and personal items to local and worldwide organizations like “Toys for Tots” and “Operation Christmas Child.” While some of these donation drives may be over for the year, many local churches are still collecting!
3. Collect canned and packaged goods for food drives! Many organizations at D’Youville have made helping eliminate world hunger an important initiative this year. If you have already headed home for the holidays, many supermarkets have barrels for donation as well!
4. Keep spare change in your pocket or purse. Instead of just passing by Salvation Army’s red kettle walking into Walmart, next time drop two quarters to share with those who are less fortunate.
5. Simply wishing people a “Merry Christmas” with a smile can really brighten someone’s day.