Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. January 2018
The short elderly couple in the grocery line bent over their wallet.
But the young couple behind them, beaming with teeth showing, shot a credit card toward the cashier, “Merry Christmas!! We got it!!”
“Oh, my! I don’t believe it. Thank you, thank you! But why?” The man’s eyes welled with tears as his wife kept repeating, “I just can’t believe this. Why us?”
“It’s our traditional Christmas Eve Acts of Kindness. We’ve been doing this every year with our daughter since she was three.” Melody and John nodded to their grinning, obviously excited, ten-year-old named Hope.
Still in shock and trembling, the couple questioned, “Wa-what are you going to do with that basket full of Christmas blankets?”
John said, “We’re going to offer them to residents in assisted living. We just want to cheer them up. Some might not have family with them tonight…maybe a little lonely.”
Melody broke in, “We’re heading to Panorama where my parents Mary Jo and Chris Shaw live.”
The little pair stood taller; their jaws dropped. “Panorama! That’s where we live! We know Chris and Mary Jo! Oh my! We’re Nancy and Bob.”
Five minutes later, the little family sped down Sleater Kinney to assisted living with two hearty bags of about 35 colorful Christmas blankets. Staff member Jay was ready to escort them to residents who were in their rooms.
As we waited for an elevator, Hope asked another Bob if he’d like a blanket. “Oh, yes. I really need one right now. It’s co-o-ld out there. I just came in. I’ll wrap it around me when I sip my cup of hot coffee after a while. I’ll remember you when I enjoy the rest of my evening watching the game.” He held the soft, gray bundle close to his chest, “It matches my clothes, too, look! Thank you very, very much.”
Residents especially treasured the little girl in their midst. Hope with her tender, sincere smile was the pearl of great price that evening.
Christine and her family were relishing their own refreshments. They all agreed with Christine they knew “someone who would especially appreciate a warm, cheery blanket. The red, white, and green one” would be delivered the next morning, Christmas Day. Perfect!
When Hope smoothed Patricia’s long-haired cats, we saw Patricia’s smile, despite her oxygen tube. She had tutored me weekly with my memoir Convent to Catwalk for over three years. I’m grateful for her and grateful to my family for offering her a snug blanket.
I recall their first Christmas Eve Acts of Kindness. Hope was three. At a gas station when a husband and wife in studded, matching leather outfits (Christmas gifts to each other) went inside to pay their bill, Melody and John handed the cashier a credit card, “Merry Christmas. Have fun!” After hearing about their Acts of Kindness, the impressed couple almost flew out of their new fancy boots! They immediately cell phoned their motorcycling buddies to meet right there to do the same elsewhere around town. (Few people owned cell phones “just for fun” in those days). “Our buddies have nothing special to do tonight…like us. They have plenty of bucks, too. Thanks for the idea. We are going to make so many people happy. We’ll do it again next year. Maybe a tradition. We’re all really close.”
At first, I thought it would be better to give the money only to those who really needed it. But observing what happened with that group, I understood that they were able to give even more, and the network could be never-ending. Everyone giving out of love…what a world!
We’ve been with our little family on most of those nights…in coffee shops, stop-n-go corners, discount stores, big and little places, sidewalks, etc. Actually, it does really work…wherever there are people!
What joy Chris and I experienced as our Panorama friends’ arms opened wide to accept the warmth of love bound up in a simple, warm blanket! I stood back now and then to take in the entire scene of exultation exchanged between residents and Melody, John, and their precious Hope.
Here is love in action. We know Hope will continue extending her own already daily, little Christmas Eve Acts of Kindness.
We are blessed again.