My kind friend is an investor. Not the money kind, but the life kind. Behind the scenes, she works. She listens and calls and rallies.
She asks a woman she barely knows, “What can I do for you?”
“I’d like a party,” the 72-year-old woman says.
“A party?” my friend repeats.
“Yes, a party with children and fudge and cookies,” she says matter of fact.
She lives alone, a widow for seven years. Childless and lonesome, she relies on social security checks, Ritz crackers and the kindness of strangers. She has no plans for Christmas and says it will likely rival any other day.
So I go to her home with my friend and our eight children combined.
We bring in trays of food for today and tomorrow.
72-year-old Betty is funny and engaging. Wisdom mixed with a dose of eccentricity.
And we find out she was once a pianist. We ask her to play.
And her hands dance. There is beauty in her arthritic fingers. And we sit front row at an impromptu Christmas concert in a paneled room with blue carpet. And we clap wildly after each song. She continues to play.
The children jump and skip in the little room with the old piano. She barely notices because her arthritic fingers are still dancing.
“They’re rusty, I don’t use them much,” she admits.
The boys run outside while the girls wrestle in the den. Betty takes requests for an audience of wrestlers and talkers. Streisand? Como? Crosby?
And this season, I search for that feeling of Christmas. Yes, I know it’s about the baby born in a manger, but I still ache for those magical December moments. Those moments I see on commercials when snow glistens and stolen kisses are captured under mistletoe. When tinsel drips of sentiment.
And I try to buy a magical Christmas; I carefully put it in my cart. I wrap it with stiff ribbon and glossy paper. I bake and craft and sing those same silly songs from a happy childhood. All the while I wait for that lovely moment that feels like Christmastime.
And today it came, in an unlikely place through an unlikely person. And our families lingered, listening and waiting and watching. And we were given a beautiful undeserved gift that cost us nothing. And we left changed.
Merry Christmas –