It’s the most Magical Time of the Year

By Linda Elissalde
Happens about this time every year. Sleighs (aka cars) are filled with song sheets, guitars, ukuleles, keyboard, drums, and music stands. People sporting antlers and wild Christmas attire load up and head out on HWY 87, turn on HWY 124 and arrive noisily at The Arboretum in Winnie, Texas. Ms. Maria McMillen welcomes this riotous group and points them in the right direction. Elves, with a bit of help from others, unload, hunt for hook-ups, and set up for a musical Christmas fantasia while song leaders stand in place. Crystal Beach Musical Ensemble, Bay Vue UMC members, Crenshaw Honor Students, Community Church adults and youth combine as performers. They are ready for magic.

Then magic starts to happen. Residents arrive in the large dining area. Some walk, some come in wheelchairs, and some are accompanied by Arboretum helpers. Talented pianist Susan Shafer begins playing the keyboard soon to be joined by guitars, ukuleles, singers and famous drummer L.B. Hunt.

With eyes aglow, smiling inhabitants join in singing, ringing bells, keeping time with feet, and drumming in rhythm on tables. Long forgotten words flow from their lips as they pat the hands of young people who circulate or stand with them. Residents clap at the end of each carol. Some musical performers began to dance to the songs. Young people join them to add their more modern steps with intricate movements. What laughter! What joy! The magic continues.

Then quietly begins that favorite, “Silent Night”. Young folk dressed in nativity costumes form a manager scene in the middle of the room. The words repeat over and over: “Silent Night, Holy Night. All is calm. All is bright.” The program is over, but the magic remains as everyone continues to clap, cheer, and say thank you. Youngsters make sure that everyone receives a pair of festive socks.

Then it is around the halls to serenade those who must stay in their rooms. More smiles and gratitude for songs and gifts. Last of all the singers enter the Alzheimer patients’ dining room. Children stand by each one, hand them a gift, and let gnarled, wrinkled hands clasp their young smooth fingers. It is a magical moment.

Performance is over. Everything is packed away for another year. While presenters want to bring magic to Arboretum inhabitants, it always seems that it is the inhabitants who furnish the magic. Again, it was THE MOST MAGICAL TIME OF THE YEAR!

Thank you, Gerry Lang, for getting all of this organized. It would not have been as successful without your “magical” leadership!


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One Response to “It’s the most Magical Time of the Year”

  1. Linda C Elissalde says:

    I must include a most important name that I left out of the article. Thank you, Gerry Lang, for getting all of this organized. It would not have been as successful without your “magical” leadership!

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