The following year, Dorothy was again expecting her out-of-
town relatives for the holidays. She wanted to be able to
entertain them with a few treats but bemoaned her lack of funds.
Again, I shelved my pride. Again, I emailed and called
friends. Again, Dorothy's friends responded with generosity,
despite a downturn in the economy.
With the $300 we received, we bought a gift certificate to
the grocery store, slipped it in a card, and presented it to her
a week before her relatives were due to arrive.
Tears gathered in her eyes. "It's too much. It's too
"It's exactly right," I said. "Exactly right for a special
We took Dorothy shopping and encouraged her to splurge on a
few delicacies as well as the essentials for Christmas dinner.
Chocolates and cherries. Crabcakes and pasta salad. Sparkling
apple juice and eggnog. All found their way into her shopping
She laughed delightedly over every extravagance, pressed my
hand, then laughed again.
After the holidays, she called and regaled me with stories
of her family's pleasure in the unexpected feast.
Sadly, Dorothy passed away six months later. At the funeral
service held in our church, her brother spoke and thanked members
of the congregation for caring so tenderly for his sister. Among
other things, he recounted the Christmas gifts.
I looked around at the faces of those attending and saw the
same individuals and families who had contributed so freely to
gifts for our dear friend.
Dorothy's spirit lives on, and I imagine her in heaven
laughing at a joke and reminding me not to "drive like an old
I say a prayer, grit my teeth, and race down the street,
hoping Dorothy is proud of me.