December 22, 2009

Fa la la la

Carol of the bells

A couple days ago, my husband decided it would be a good experience for my two youngest kids to do some community service at the assisted-living facility where my mother-in-law lives. With-a-Why is shy, and when he does volunteer work, he usually chooses something like setting up chairs in an empty room. But Spouse figured he could use music to coax With-a-Why out of his shell.

“We’d love to have your boys come and play some Christmas carols,” the social director said when my husband called.

This afternoon, I coerced the boys into taking showers, and we loaded the keyboard into the car, with With-a-Why complaining. “I need pedals. I can’t do most of my songs on this keyboard.”

“You don’t have to play the kind of music you do for recitals,” I said. “Mostly, the old folks just want to see you having fun.”

Shaggy Hair Boy grabbed a folder of Christmas music, and that’s mostly what the boys ended up playing. The elderly folks started singing along right away, and the social director ran to get a microphone for my husband, who has a beautiful voice and who warms up quickly to an audience who laughs at corny jokes.

It wasn’t a very polished performance. Shaggy Hair Boy kept rooting through the folder of music to find songs, accidentally dumping the whole thing onto the floor at one point. My husband joked with the boys and the residents as they moved from song to song. It was the kind of informal jam session my kids are used to.

When I saw that one woman knew the words to every song, I nudged my husband, and he rolled her wheelchair up to the microphone so they could sing a couple of duets. Shaggy Hair Boy good-naturedly took requests from the audience, even when they weren’t songs he knew very well. He and With-a-Why did a four-handed piece that got a round of applause from the crowd, who by then had figured out that With-a-Why was shy. They loved it when he played some of the score from the Charlie Brown Christmas special. My mother-in-law sat in the front row and looked proud.

“Admit it,” I said to the boys on our way home, “You had a good time. And doesn’t it feel good to know that everyone there enjoyed it?”

“I don’t really like nursing homes,” said Shaggy Hair Boy said.

“No one does,” I said. “That was the point. To make it feel like our living room instead.”

“If the world exploded right now,” Shaggy Hair Boy said, “I’d probably go right to heaven.”

Fa la la la

15 comments:

Queen of West Procrastination said...

I agree with Shaggy Hair. You have some fantastic kids.

rented life said...

Sounds like a fun time!

Songbird said...

:-)

Meredith Leigh Knight said...

That's just awesome!

Elias Alfred McQuaid IV said...

where were beautiful wonderful perfect daughter and gothic kid?

jo(e) said...

Elias: Beautiful Smart Wonderful Daughter and Boy in Black were off doing errands with Sailor Boy. Clearly, they are lost without Blue-eyed Ultimate Player.

Sarah Sometimes said...

this is very cheering!

AnnetteK said...

I'm impressed! What good kids you have. :)

sherry said...

I love that your kids and your husband did this. But, what I love most in this story is the line that made your kids so very human: "I coerced the boys into taking showers."

Magpie said...

he's totally going to heaven. which, incidentally, is what i always say when i do an unthanked good deed, like for my boss's 96 year old mother.

Amber S said...

What a special, special family you are.

"like setting up chairs in an empty room": that's a great line and I can so relate.

Silver Creek Mom said...

OMG I love your last line! Yes he would go right to heaven! I love that you did this! Hugs to you all and many kisses!
Merry ChRItMas for north of the boarder!
Mwah!

jodi said...

And what a wonderful gift for your mother-in-law!

liz said...

I love your family. LOVE.

BerryBird said...

This was such a wonderful thing to do!! When my grandmother was in a nursing home, I went to many different recreational programs with her and other residents. Musical performances, especially ones where residents could sing along, were hands down the best. And having it be young people doing the performance makes it even more special.