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By Kristel Coombes

“Look carefully because what you’ll see is not what you just saw.”  (Da Vinci)

I sat in the far corner of the room, nestled between two ageing women, their hands folded as they listened and the children commenced their Christmas carolling. For a moment, the hospital ward was transformed. The daunting sadness disappeared, replaced by memory and identity. I observed the faces of the audience, in the knowledge that some were condemned to remain there and others were unable to read or interpret the lines of their lives any longer. They all smiled understandably. It was the music that moved them with its overwhelming power.

A little Christmas cheer helps the patients forget their illnesses.

In the fashion of a temporary Santa, the children began to distribute the gifts across the ward. Naturally, my thoughts turned to how little we actually knew about the personalities around us, however, I came to learn that the choice of gift was not significant. The gift was important because it provided these children with an opportunity to say “I understand you.” Thus, love was the gift that survived in undiminished vigour as all else faded away.

The Beaver and Cubs Scouts truly embraced the healing presence of their Christmas carols during their recent gift giving ceremony at St. Bernard’s hospital. We have all known insupportable loneliness at one moment or another in time, and the elderly are especially vulnerable to social isolation during the festive season. As a result, this may have a serious effect on their health. One of the Scout leaders stated that, “Being away from friends and family in a hospital setting during the festive season can be extremely unsettling for most, and a little Christmas cheer helps the patients forget their illnesses and treatments, if only for a short while.”

The treasures of daily enchantments are controlled by time, and those of us unwilling to show compassion or honesty walk like blind men into the future. Those who have walked before us have given so much and made possible the life we all enjoy today. I encourage readers to become advocates for better care in our community, after all, “It is not how much you do, but how much love you put into the doing” that truly matters.

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