On December 21st, 2017, AHR held its annual holiday expedition. We call it a “holiday expedition”, but the music we play is all Christmas themed in reality. Despite our exhaustive efforts, we could not find any saxophone quartet music to accommodate Jewish residents.
Despite our shortcomings, the residents at the four elderly homes we visited enjoyed our performance...or at least we like to think that they did. In any case, it was fun for us to meet both familiar and new faces from our performances throughout the year. After all, 2016’s Holiday Expedition marked the one year anniversary since AHR began performing at elderly homes. As such, our performances at Atria Tarzana, Encino Village, and South and North Brookdale Tarzana were not only valuable experiences for our members and the elderly residents but also a point of retrospection on how far AHR has come.
The most noticeable difference between AHR now and then is the number of performances. The so called “Holiday Expedition” of 2015 was actually a single performance at South Brookdale Tarzana. Moreover, it was the first performance of AHR.
By the time this holiday season rolled around, our club was able to schedule four back to back performances in one day! Though the day was long, every aspect of our expedition was filled with delight from our audience and within our group. The holidays are a time filled with friends and family, and our entire adventure was an unique experience that taught me to cherish those around me. Being the youngest amongst a group of teenage boys, I felt very separated especially considering that they were all friends previously. However as the day went on, I became integrated into the group and found myself a new family... at least temporarily.
Friends aside, the most memorable part of the day was performing for the elderly. AHR has done quite a few performances in the past, but everyone was filled with the holiday spirit during our expedition. The cheerful music and silly costumes connected everyone in a magical way that can only surface around the holidays. Many of the elderly had family that had not planned to spend the holidays with them. However, they were overjoyed when we played for them and interviewed them about their lives. They shared holiday traditions that have been in their families for years and cheered when their friends began to play music with us! At one home, the elderly wanted an encore, but we had no more pieces prepared. Luckily, James stepped in to save the day and used his experience from leading his church’s choir to answer the demands of our audience. For a solid 10 minutes, our group and the residents of the North Brookdale Tarzana Senior Living called out requests and sung carols as James conducted. Nearly the entire performance was impromptu but nothing in the entire day could even begin to compare to how perfect that moment was.
Looking back on the day, I can honestly say that spending time with the elderly was the best part of my holiday break. Though I love my family and our extravagant holiday dinner, connecting with the older generation unlocked a new perspective of the winter time. Many of the residents treated me like a granddaughter, and I was happy to fill the position if it brought an ounce of joy to the residents. As AHR continues to thrive and the original members drift off to college and beyond, we will always return during December to revisit those we bonded with this year… and hopefully touch the hearts of others!