Well, it’s Christmas time and I have my trusty cup of coffee but along with it I have a freshly made gingerbread boy with blue icing to munch on. Hope you have time to sit down with me.
Rather than one of my usual tales of Gretchen and her ups and downs in life, I would like to share with you a story I wrote a few years ago. Instead of sending Christmas cards I sent this to my family. I think of you now as my extended family, so I am sharing this with you.
Though he was easily recognized, no one really knew much about him other than he was one of many who lived on the streets. He frequented the homeless shelters carrying an old burlap sack which held his worldly possessions. Most of his meals were thanks to the local soup kitchens. The law enforcement officers would have told you Ned was harmless and if anything a rather gentle soul. He did, however, have a strange obsession. He was constantly picking up scraps of paper and folding them into tiny shapes, such as animals, flowers, birds and the like. He gave them to passers-by sometimes for money, but mostly sharing them with small children. They nicknamed him “Origami Ned”.
Sarah’s mother volunteered at the local soup kitchen where Ned often came. If there was no one to care for Sarah, the child would come with her. She was a happy, bubbly little girl with big blue eyes and a mass of blonde curls that bounced up and down as she walked. Her mother tried to find small tasks to keep this tiny whirlwind busy and that in itself was a challenge.
It was the soup kitchen’s annual Christmas dinner and as always the hall was packed with folks from every walk of life. Sarah was very excited. She was four years old and this year she had a real job to do. Her mother told her she could help give out the pie. Proudly she stood on a little wooden box and as each person came forward Sarah handed them their dessert topped off with a dollop of whipped cream and her beautiful smile. It wasn’t long before she became known as the little pumpkin pie girl.
Ned stepped up to the table, reached into his pocket and pulled out a little crane made out of an old sheet of wrapping paper. He smiled and said, “Hi there, how be I trade you this for a piece of your pie?” Her face lit up as she took the tiny bird from him. “I’ll take it right home and put it on my Christmas tree,” she said. This became an annual tradition between Sarah and Ned; a tiny crane for a piece of pie.
Another Christmas rolled around and Ned appeared with his annual offering but the dessert table was being manned by a middle aged woman. Reaching out for his pie he asked where Sarah and her mother were. She explained they had recently been involved in an accident and were both recuperating. Sadly though, little Sarah had lost her eyesight. Pulling the brightly coloured crane from his pocket he asked if she would see that it was given to the child.
The following year both Sarah and her mother were back at their station behind the dessert table. Once again, the exchange took place and continued for a few more years, with Sarah’s crane collection ever growing. Now, rather than exclaiming at the beautiful colours; her fingers gently traced the shape of the bird as she nestled the tiny treasure into the palm of her hand. She smiled, thanking Ned for the gift she could no longer see.
Everything was prepared and stood ready for another holiday dinner. Sarah, now eleven, stood proudly in her new red velvet dress looking forward to giving out the dessert and of course, the excitement of a new decoration. They were down to the last few pieces of pie and there still had been no sign of Ned. Sarah had asked her mother a hundred times if she had seen him come in yet. Just as the soup kitchen doors were about to close a woman entered wearing a nurse’s uniform. She stopped and spoke to someone and then came directly to the dessert table. Placing a folded piece of wrapping paper into Sarah’s hands she said, “A patient in the hospital asked me to please bring this to the little pumpkin pie girl.” Sarah felt the paper in her hand. There were no delicate wings, no curve of a neck extending out to a graceful head. It was not what she expected. It was just a piece of plain paper. Her mother took the folded sheet from her and opened it carefully.
Then speaking barely above a whisper she read, “Dear Sarah, I’m sorry that I can’t bring you a gift for your tree this year. I’m not feeling very well and I won’t be able to come back again. The doctor tells me where I am going I will not need my eyes, so I have asked they be given to you. I hope next year you will be able to see your Christmas tree and the world around you once again.” It was signed, “Your friend, Origami Ned.”
Rhyme for the day
May the Holiday Season bring you joy
For the little ones a favourite toy
For the grown ups happiness and peace of mind
And to one and all – to each other be kind
Thanks for having coffee with me!