“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”
The phrase made famous by the beloved Christmas movie, “Elf,” has served as the mantra for a dozen or so DHR Health employees in Edinburg as Christmas Day inches ever closer.
Those employees considered caroling for patients who are in the hospital during the holidays in hopes of using the healing power of song.
“We were trying to think of ways that we could bring Christmas cheer, not only to the patients but to the staff who have been working so hard here on the front lines,” Cristie Esparza, director of patient experience at DHR Health, said Tuesday. “We decided that we could spread some cheer with Christmas carols.”
Since Dec. 13, the group has made numerous appearances in different departments singing up-beat Christmas staples including “Feliz Navidad,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” and “Jingle Bells,” among others.
“We got some employee volunteers together — we kind of did a call out with all of our staff to see who’s interested in doing this — and we got a great group together,” Esparza said. “We’ve been doing this for the past couple of weeks. It’s really brought smiles and joy to both the patients and the families, and the staff members as well.”
Esparza said that carollers from local schools and the community would regularly visit the hospital during the holidays in the past, however those visits were stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That’s why we kind of took it upon ourselves to do it internally with our staff,” Esparza said. “We all decided on the songs that we wanted to sing, and of course we wanted uplifting songs.”
She said that the carollers had little to no preparations outside of actually selecting the songs.
“On our first day, we just kind of winged it,” Esparza said with a laugh. “It was really fun though.”
The group most recently performed Monday at the hospital’s emergency room and intensive care unit. Rehearsal or not, the performances have been well received and a welcome respite from the stress of being in the hospital during the holidays.
“We’re not professional (singers), so we’re kind of nervous going to the floors, but the staff — they love it — and the patients even more,” Esparza said.
Some patients will ask for photos with the carollers, others will make song requests, and a few will open the doors in order to allow the music to flow into their rooms.
“Holidays in the hospital are hard,” Esparza said. “The (music) helps to make spirits brighter. That was our goal when doing this. We found along the way that not only the patients loved it, but our staff really enjoyed it as well. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic, so it’s definitely a time for us to be able to spread that joy to them, to let them know that we’re here to support them, uplift and celebrate.”