While one year we delivered Christmas gifts (and meals) to refugees, in most years we meet elderly, bed-ridden women (few men), who spend a lot time alone watching television in their houses or apartments. We parachute into their lives for a brief moment, and it’s on to the next family wherever our GPS takes us. It is hard to make these short visits personal, other than being Santa’s elves.
But, when I saw 92-year old Julia in bed watching TV, I tried something different. I asked Julia to tell me about herself. And out came a story. She came from a family of ten and this six-bedroom house was where she grew up. Everyone worked for the government and they owned the house not far from the church down the street. And, “Bless the Lord,” she said. “I sang in the choir.” “Do you still sing? I asked and made a request, “Do you know Amazing Grace?” And what came next was my Christmas present, better than any meal I could possibly deliver: A full-throated, soulful rendition of Amazing Grace. When Julia finished we both teared up and parted as friends.