Getting ready for Christmas

“I’ll Be Home For Christmas” was recorded by Bing Crosby in 1943 as a tribute to soldiers overseas during World War II, and has become a holiday classic. Nursing home residents are a bit like soldiers, but most of them will never be home for Christmas.  The statistics say that 60% of nursing home residents in the U.S. do not receive a single visit from a family member in an entire year. There is no more important time to plan a special program than at the holidays. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day each are opportunities to show God’s love through visiting people who are alone. Small gifts are wonderful, but the greatest gift we have to offer is our presence.

For those unfamiliar with nursing home ministry early October may seem a bit early to begin planing a Christmas program. But after having worked for 20 years of Christmas  I have learned that the earlier we start the better. Usually we have a group of from 6-10 volunteers (mostly young people) who start out eager to help. What happens along the way  is a combination of teen issues (boyfriend /girlfriend) or school and family changes that impact our ability to prepare. All in all I sometimes feel like we are just duct taping a few kings crowns together and turning up microphones for shy voices that the residents can barely hear. Thank God that Jesus takes our 5 loaves and 2 fish of talent and desire and multiplies it in a way that touches hearts and lives each year. Over the next week I will be posting a few practical ideas and guidelines that may assist you in your own community to get ready for Christmas once again.

In this computer age no one uses pencil and paper but I encourage you to at least try both. Physically writing things down helps to slow our thoughts down enough to consider in detail the people and the plan that will help make your program effective.

Make a List

  1. Meet with the recreation/activities director of your chosen local nursing home and find an open date on their calendar that works for you. Typically these calendars fill up more than a month in advance. We are written in for December 6 because the 13th was already taken!
  2. Ask for volunteers from your circle at church and friends and find out how many people you can expect to help. Will this work for the program you have in mind?
  3. Can the children (or youth) at your church be invited to participate?
  4. Think about small gifts for the residents. Have you asked the staff what gifts to give?

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Pray for God’s creative ideas. Pray together with your team. Get started and trust that the Christmas message is full of hope for people who have been forgotten. Christmas began in the heart of God!

 

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.  Luke 1:37

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Youth Christmas music at Nursing Home

This did take a while to process the video but I was so touched by our youth and by the help of all the parents this past Christmas. They sang, presented the nativity and helped to raise the offering that enabled us to give a copy of the Book by Joni Eareckson Tada “Spectacle of Glory to each resident and to some of the staff. What a blessing to be included with such a great group of people. It doesn’t take a group of professionals to share the message of Jesus. Be blessed!

Christmas Program at Nursing Home

I haven’t posted much lately because we have been preparing for our Christmas program for Allied Services Skilled nursing. This was a special year in many ways. First of all I was so grateful for all the youth and parents who gave their best this past Wednesday night. We had an interesting cast. Joseph was from Peru, Mary was a Brazilian and we had a Brazilian/American king!

Also this year we had a fund raiser in order to give as a gift to each resident a copy of Joni Eareckson Tada’s new devotional “Spectacle of Glory” . They graciously discounted us about 60% off of the retail to help us along. Two of the mom’s from the church hauled in all the robes and helped to dress the youth. As an authentic touch a client of mine donated an antique wooden cradle for the manger. I will be posting video next week but here are a few photos of our night. With all that was said and done it was truly a night of worship and a night to remember!

saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” Matthew 2:2

How Great Thou Art with Youth group

We recently visited Allied Skilled nursing for a Pre-Thanksgiving program with part of our youth group. The seniors always love the teens! Afterwards they gave out their own home made cookies filled with the special ingredient of love. Have you considered asking the youth at your church to prepare something for Christmas for a nearby home? Now is a perfect time to plan and schedule a Christmas visit! Be blessed!