Two Christmas Gifts
(click to enlarge illustrations)
Tuesday brought an unexpected assignment: the kind that goes along with the general category of “honey, do….” Ellen, my spouse’s long-time friend, needed a ride to a doctors appointment, and there was a schedule conflict. I volunteered.
Ellen is a long-time U.S. citizen, of African descent, whose accent betrays her growing up in one of the islands of the British West Indies. Ellen’s appointment flowed out of a knee problem so serious that she had to be transported by ambulance recently from the city bus on which she was riding for medical care. The pain had been too excruciating.
Back and forth to her job requires 3 1/2 hours a day on the bus, part of which requires a two block walk to the bus stop closest to her home, and a transfer in downtown Minneapolis. It has been very cold recently, and one day was just too much. Ellen badly needs a knee replacement. She needs her job more. She has no car.
As I drove her to and from the appointment we chatted about this and that. Ellen is someone you’d enjoy visiting. Even on the worst of days, she is upbeat.
I noted the big difference between Christmas weather here and on her home island. She’s been here a long time, and she thinks the snow is an important part of the Twin Cities Christmas season.
We talked a bit about Christmas back home on the island, and it brought out her own nostalgia.
I didn’t take notes – I was driving, after all – but she talked about how at Christmas time people from the churches went around singing Christmas carols in the town in which she lived. There was visiting, small gifts exchanged, other rituals that go with important occasions.
An apparently important event was the seasonal changing of the window drapes in homes…I gathered it was not a competition, rather an opportunity to admire and compliment the work of the occupants of the homes.
It brought to mind simpler times, not filled with fashion, and day after exchanges at the malls, a quest for things for which we have no need, as we have here.
There are many more pieces to this story, of course.
But on a Tuesday afternoon in St. Paul MN I got a great Christmas gift, thanks to my spouse and her friend, Ellen.
(In the caption for this post, I talk of two Christmas Gifts.
The second gift came in the form of the Christmas card which included the two pictures you see above.
This came about the same time as my visit with Ellen, and came from Mohamed, who I have been honored to have as a friend for 63 years. Mohamed (his birth legal name) I knew by another name way back then in rural North Dakota. His faith, then and now, Mohammedan (Muslim).
There was a brief message with the card, but the card really says it all.
“Let there be peace on earth” goes a song oft-sung.
Let peace…and its necessary neighbor, justice…begin with each and every one of us.)
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