'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
CHRISTMAS SPIRIT STILL ALIVE IN CYNICAL AGE
Maybe the Christmas spirit isn’t quite dead yet. Although we live in a cynical, self-centered culture these days, every once in a while something happens to show that there’s still a little goodness and decency left in the world.
It all began recently at the Sunday night Bible study class I attend at a local parish. One of the members of our group is the sweetest elderly woman you’d ever want to meet. I’m not going to mention her age because, frankly, I not sure how old she is (but I bet she could’ve voted for Franklin Roosevelt—or at least Harry Truman). And I’m definitely not going to mention her name because she’s so modest and humble she’d probably be embarrassed that someone made a fuss over her in the newspaper.
Anyway, our study group was sitting around a table in the combination church hall/cafeteria building. The tile floor had been waxed recently and was kind of slick. When it was time to take a break, this woman got up from the table, using the back of her metal folding chair for support. The chair promptly skidded out from under her on the slippery floor, and she went down as if she was hit with a left hook from George Foreman. The side of her head hit the tile floor with a sickening thud. The whole group gasped in horror and for a fleeting moment some of us thought we’d have to come back to the church the next day for a funeral.
She was a little dazed and in a fair amount of pain. We slowly got her back up and sat her on a chair. The bump on the side of her head was already growing. At this point, I sprang into action, using all the emergency medical training I’ve received over the years from watching doctor and hospital programs on TV. I went into the kitchen to find some ice.
Unfortunately, there was no ice. I did locate a 20-pound bag of frozen Tater Tots in a deep freezer, but if there’s one clear message promoted by all the doctor and hospital TV programs each week, it’s never put a 20-pound bag of frozen Tater Tots on the head of a senior citizen. (With anyone under age 60, of course, it’s perfectly fine.)
Instead, I grabbed a handful of ice cream bars and fudge-sicles, and we took turns holding them against the side of her head to keep the swelling down. Thankfully, she was not seriously injured (“Good thing I have a thick skull,” she kept saying), and thankfully the ice cream bars were wrapped tightly and didn’t leak all over the place as they melted against her head.
For most people in our culture, the next logical step would have been to call the lawyer with the most garish photo of an ambulance in his Yellow Pages ad, and then sue the pants off the church and anyone even remotely connected with our small group, including, presumable, the Author of the book we were studying. But the next time I saw this woman, she called me aside and handed me an envelope. Inside was a five-dollar bill.
“What’s this for?” I asked.
She replied, “For the ice cream bars. I feel bad that I ruined them. They’re suppose to be for the school children’s dessert.”
Now, I know for a fact that this woman and her husband are not the kind of senior citizens who spend their Social Security checks each month on diamond-encrusted collars for their poodles. To them five bucks is still a lot of money.
And I also know for a fact that the charity and selflessness in her sweet heart comes from the Author of the book we study, the One whose birth we celebrate in a few days.
So, thank you very much, Dorothy (oops, I mentioned her name!) for such a wonderful gesture of love. Thank you for showing me that the Christmas spirit is still alive.
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