“Silent Night, Holy Night”, “Away In A Manager”, “Felice Navidad”, and “Jingle Bells” filled the hallways of Colonial Estates Nursing Home located in Shawnee, Oklahoma and brought many residents to the doors of their rooms while others were rolled in their wheelchairs by attendants or pushed themselves along on their walkers. The young carolers were members of Cub Scout Pack 408 of Saint Benedict Catholic Church dressed in their blue uniform tops and blue jean trousers.
The Cub Scouts had come to one of the nursing homes in town “to make some old and lonely people happy” Cub Scout Jonathan Whiteside and his younger sister, Carol Whiteside, who demanded and was allowed to participate, boldly told me in their young but positive voices. The young Whitesides were more confident than I in our ability to make people happy. But as I looked around this nursing home at the hunched men and women who were robbed of their health, their faculties and in more instances than I would care to venture, their families, I wondered how much happiness we Cub Scouts and a little girl could actually deliver. I, nonetheless, sang along with these young Cub Scouts and little girl hoping my tears would go unnoticed by them and especially the residents.
As the sound of 8, 9, and 10 year old boy voices and one little 3 year old girl voice filled the hallways, singing “Jingle Bells”, a very old woman wearing a mint green dress shuffled her walker out her doorway. She waved the best she could to the Scouts and reached out her hand. Carol Whiteside immediately grabbed hold of her hand then confidently stated "Merry Christmas". The woman smiled, her face lit up seemingly recalling perhaps an earlier Christmas with a grandchild. A snapshot image of this elderly woman holding and patting Carol’s hand in gratitude for her singing efforts and gesture of unconditional love remained branded in my mind for nearly two decades.
I want to remember it. As, on occasions, I think too much like an adult rather than a child. At the time, I had forgotten that a song, a smile and even the touch of another person’s hand can indeed make “someone who is lonely happy” during Christmas and throughout the year.
Lord, I thank you for the presence, enthusiasm and honesty of little children. Let we adult always remember our need to be as little children spiritually and look to You, Lord and Father, always!