A reminder to keep things in perspective

Published 8:47 am Tuesday, December 19, 2017

As you probably know, I’ve been in the hospital with flu that then turned into pneumonia.

I was told last year when I fought for my life never to get pneumonia again. Well, I did it, but this time we caught it early and now I’m home and healing.

I simply cannot write a good column yet so I want to republish a Christmas story I published in 2010 in “Chicken Soup for the Soul.”

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Keep things in perspective

Standing precariously on a stool in my office, I found the Christmas boxes, high and on a back shelf. It was time to transform our home into the magic colors of the love season. I slid the boxes to the carpet and knelt to explore once again the scented candles, satin balls and a sparkling ornament that had hung every year upon our tree.

Separating the tiny color lights, I lean to plug in the first strand. Glancing at the box once again, my eye fell upon something tucked in the bottom corner. There was a red candle. Folded in yellowed tissues, were four dimes. Uunderneath it all was an old magazine.

I rocked back on my heels. While the lights burned on, my mind relived the events that led these things to be in my possession.

I once knew a woman who had very little in the way of material possessions. Her clothes were clean but faded. She ironed clothes for other people to make money for her two children. There was no car so she walked everywhere in worn, cracked shoes. The three of them lived together in a tiny corner house and they slept in one room.

I met her through her little boy who used to come into my pet store after school. He loved animals and I’d pay him a little bit to help me. He brought his mom to see me one wintry day. I liked her and since I was nice to her child, she liked me. Mothers are like that.

When Christmas came one year, she appeared in my store smiling and red cheeked. Wrapped in a newspaper was three things, a red candle never lit, four dimes wrapped in tissue paper and a magazine. She asked me if I would open it so she could explain.

Blinking back tears, I listened. She said, “The red candle would bring light into my life. The four dimes were to remind me to always cherish my four kids. The magazine had an article about the meaning of giving and loving one another.”

Never had I received such a wondrous gift with so much heart. She stood silently, hoping I would accept her humble offering of friendship. I could not close the gap between us fast enough and with my arms around her, I told her I was honored and would keep them always.

And I have. In fact, it’s the only ornament I put out now. I have no house or tree but they lovingly remind me of the value of relationship and the giving of oneself. My friend so long ago keeps Christmas in its proper perspective for me.

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.