Kamalla Rose Kaur
In memory of Clarice Wills, dancer, teacher, public speaker, peace activist, chef and art collector – fearless feisty performer.
As I entered the lobby of an elegant retirement center a couple days before Christmas a group of lively elder residents started caroling around the gigantic Christmas tree. I headed right to the elevator and traveled to the third and top floor. I was there to escort an elder friend, age 91, to a party. My husband waited outside in the car.
But that didn’t stop me from taking a moment after leaving the elevator, to trot over to the balcony rail and gaze down from three tall stories onto the huge and fabulous artificial Christmas tree and the festive elders below.
Enchanting, the world suddenly lit up with an infinitude of little white sparkling lights with gold dust mixed in, accented by reds and greens.
Such a beautiful sight. And then the caroling stopped and there was a lovely hush. No one looked up.
And I almost changed that. I almost made a spectacle of myself. I almost decided that I am a soprano – and when the need arises, I am, I am! I almost proclaimed, dramatically, from on-high, the story of Christmas:
“There were shepherds abiding in the field,
keeping watch over their flocks by night.
And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them
and the Glory of the Lord shown round about them.
And they were sore afraid.
The angel said unto them, “Fear not!
For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
For born unto you this day in the City of David,
a savior, which is Christ the Lord!”
But I stepped away without singing and hurried to collect my elder friend.
That section from Handel’s Messiah isn’t a solo. To really pull it off you have to do the whole passage, including the part where the choir of angels arrive. You must have a fine orchestra.
A grand cathedral works well. Or maybe the top floor of a local retirement home, for years called The Pink Palace (now locals call it The Cream Castle) looking down over their bedazzling Christmas tree to an audience of big hearted elderly carolers – all Christian and/or intellectual and/or simply musical enough, to deeply appreciate Handel during the holidays.
In my imagination, it sounded like this: