Monday, December 24, 2007

Special Delivery

One of my favorite things to do at Christmas is to bake some kind of treat for the neighbors and hand deliver it to them on Christmas eve. It's a tradition I started when Teen Angel was little to teach her about showing love to others and giving when nothing is expected in return. It's also a great way to show our neighbors how swell we think they are. We really are blessed with good neighbors. There isn't a dud in the bunch. When Teen Angel was really young I would pull her around the neighborhood in her big red wagon while we delivered the goodies. The last few years we walked. This year's mode of transportation? A golfcart. Sissy says I should have decorated it with lights and tinsel. Maybe next year.

I bake something different every year. Last year was cream cheese pound cake. This year it was Amish friendship cake. Nine loaves of it. It was another baking frenzy around here yesterday. Today was delivery day, and it was as much fun as I expected it to be. That's because I always get invited into their homes for conversation and sometimes a goodie or a beverage. I got all caught up with Miss P. about her engagement. She is possibly the nicest woman I've ever known. The O.'s were already opening a few gifts with their grandchildren. Mr. R. seems to be recovering well from his recent surgery, and M.'s daughter has already arrived for their big family get together.

There is one fewer face on the block these days. Mrs. E. died from cancer a little more than a year ago, and I really miss my Christmas chat with her. She was a kind and loving woman who helped her husband pastor a local church for several decades. She and Brother E. never had children, but they shared their hearts with a whole lot of people. They always invited me in for eggnog and a seat by the fireplace. We would talk and laugh about the neighborhood happenings, and I never failed to marvel at how such a quiet, dignified woman could fill up an entire room with just her presence. She was loved by many. As she lay dying of cancer, a bus load of people from other churches drove more than three hours to her house, just to pray for her. "Mom, come look," Teen Angel said as they pulled up in her driveway and started filing out of the bus. We watched in awe as they encircled her house, held hands and prayed for her. She handled her illness with incredible grace, even when she lost her beautiful long hair to the chemo. Mrs. E. was Pentocostal, making the hair loss that much more difficult. I miss her, but not like Brother E. does. As difficult as it is to visit their house without her in it, those little chats seem more important now than ever before. The same goes for my time today with Miss P.. Even though she's engaged now, she doesn't get a lot of company. For a sixty year old woman who has suffered a divorce and the loss of her mother in recent years, the holidays are somewhat difficult. We spent an hour talking and laughing, and she was in much better spirits when I left than when I knocked on her door.

I've decided that those deliveries really don't have anything to do with the foil wrapped cakes I leave behind. Oh, those folks tell me they enjoy the goodies, but I think they enjoy the company more than anything. Me too. They have no idea how much those visits nourish my soul. Teen Angel learned the lesson of the cakes a long time ago, but I think my lesson from the special deliveries has just begun.

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