My best Christmas present this year didn’t arrive on Christmas Day. It came on Christmas Eve, when I played the piano for residents of Martinborough’s Wharekaka Rest Home. It’s something I do from time to time, usually playing Great American Songbook type music along with old favourites from the British Isles, Ireland and New Zealand. This time I threw in some Christmas carols to suit the occasion.
It was my smallest audience yet at the home – most residents had left to spend Christmas with their families. But the few that were left appreciated the music, as I found as I headed out the door on my way home. A lady I’d not seen before came rushing up to me to say that a few weeks earlier her husband had died and she’d had to move into the Wharekaka Home. ‘This afternoon I’ve been happy,” she said, “for the first time since my husband died.” I was delighted to know I’d helped her reclaim some happiness and I appreciated her telling me. It was a present that went both ways.