Every year it was the same thing, “You can only come if you don’t sing. You can move your mouth to the words but don’t sing.” Every Christmas eve we would go out singing Christmas carols. My Dad was a scout master and he was completely tone deaf.
He was a big strong hearty guy who loved Christmas and his enthusiasm was expressed by singing Christmas carols very loudly and very off key. I wasn’t yet old enough to be a scout but I followed the group around singing carols. We visited some of the scout masters homes and had biscuits and fruit juice. Then we would go to two old folks homes and sing all of the carols we had learned to each group.
I remember being upset on one particular Christmas eve because the animated movie of RUDOLF THE RED NOSE REINDEER was playing for the first time on television and I was going to miss it. We walked from house to house and then turned up to the old folks home. Some of the old ladies were already sitting in their wheelchairs waiting for us to start. An old man stood with his face in the corner of the room and talked and mumbled to himself. One of the nurses tried to get him to turn around but he was quite comfortable where he was. Another old man walked past without his trousers on and was quickly escorted away by the nurse.
As we stood on the small stage and prepared our song list one old lady began to wail and cry. “Why didn’t they visit? Why didn’t they call? Where’s my son and daughter? It’s Christmas, why haven’t they come to visit? The woman became hysterical and was taken to another room screaming to anyone who would listen that her children didn’t visit her anymore. This prompted an old lady in the front row to quietly ask where her children were. “Why don’t they visit anymore?” Soon at least six old people were crying.
That day I vowed that I would do everything in my power to never put my parents into a place like that. My Dad passed away almost twenty years ago and my mom is still lucky enough to live in her own home.
We started to sing and my Dad with a gentle hand on each of my shoulders sang louder and happier than anyone else. I’ve never heard a sweeter sound in my life.
Merry Christmas everyone!