ALPENA - Not everyone has a pocketbook for expensive presents, but everyone has a voice.
Feeling called to share her song, Tendercare Alpena physical therapist assistant Patty Goldammer recruits friends and coworkers in the Alpena area every year to go caroling at local homes, hospices and businesses, for both the sake of tradition and for personal reasons. Goldammer said she grew up caroling for family friends, making the rounds in neighborhoods for hot chocolate and good company, and the love of doing it never left her.
"I just love to sing, and my friends as well, and at this time of year, it just makes everybody feel good, and I feel that God has given me a gift, and I love to share it, as well as my friends and coworkers," she said.
Goldammer's caroling group, "Patty and Friends," ranges from a duet to a company of 30 people, depending on availability, led by herself in impromtu get-togethers wherever there's an interest.
"We've been doing this probably for about the last 10 years, and every year we always go to the two different Tendercares, Luther Manor, and then we go to friends and family and area businesses, and we'll sing songs for customers and family friends, outside homes. We have been requested to sing at a couple of businesses in town for their customers, where they wanted us to stand outside their business just to create good will and have that warm and fuzzy feeling because it is that time of year," she said. "We really don't practice too much, because it's impromptu, and we grab our songbooks, and it's not formal. It's like, 'Let's get together and do it.'"
As an avid deer hunter, she usually starts putting the group together in the last week of November and no earlier, then starts practicing and scheduling. She said they do about four performances a year, and anything beyond that is extra. Most of her company consists of returning members, but she welcomes new voices to the group whenever possible because during the holidays, she said, deep down, everyone is a singer.
"We try to stick with the same group of people, but we're always looking for new people that want to harmonize, and you don't have to know how to sing," she said. "You just show up, and we just go with it. Voices have power, everybody blends together, and I think everybody can sing."
Where once it seemed like a dying tradition, Goldammer believes caroling is making a comeback. It's the season of giving, after all, and even in hard times, everyone can afford a song.
"I want to think it's on the rise, I think because it makes people feel good, and it's something that you can give freely, but it doesn't cost anything," she said. "You give something from the heart, and I think, just in trying times, it's just something that we all want to make one another feel good, and it's something that's easily done."
The group's final performance of the season is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at Tendercare Alpena, and she invites anyone to join or call her at 255-7913.
Andrew Westrope can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693.