It was Christmas Eve, and 10-year-old Kara and I were up to our elbows in cookie dough and sprinkles. My husband Mike and our son Steve were on their way out the door to start their Christmas shopping. I had rolled out half the dough, and Kara was cutting out the shapes and placing them carefully on the cookie sheets when suddenly the lights went out. So did the furnace, because the electricity had gone out all over our side of town. Mike and Steve would be warm in the car and the stores, but Kara and I couldnt go with them, because they were shopping for our gifts. Mike called our friends Sharon and Jerry, who lived on the other side of town to see if Kara and I could hang out with them until the electricity was restored. Of course was Sharons cheery reply. At that time, I had Mindy, my first Seeing Eye ® dog, and she was welcome as well. However, we also had a little pet dog named Jeanie. Already the house was beginning to cool, and we worried a little about Jeanie, but not enough to inflict our kind hosts with not only Kara and me and my dog but also a noisy little terrier mix. We made a nest for her with blankets and Mikes woolen coat on the loveseat, and we set off for warmth and welcome at the Hofacres.
Sharon was in the midst of preparing for house guests, changing sheets, wrapping gifts, cleaning, and cooking, but she assured me I was welcome to use their bathroom to shower. Imagine letting someone use your shower and hang out all day with you when youre trying to get ready for out-of-town family who would be arriving later that night. Sharon was unflappable, dusting and sweeping around sherry and me, while Kara played with her children. The hours ticked by, and still our side of town was without power. We found ourselves pulling chairs up to their kitchen table for a wonderful supper of beef stew. Soon it was time for church, and still no electricity. Off we went to our respective churches with the gracious invitation for us to come back to their house if our lights were still off. I was deeply touched by their generosity, but I wanted more than anything to be home for Christmas morning. How would we deal with presents, and what about their house guests?
The Christmas Eve service was lovely as usual, and I was thankful that I could have sherry at my feet, comfortable and warm, but I worried about Jeanie in the cold house alone.
What I was most thankful for though was that when we left the church and headed to our own neighborhood, we discovered that the electricity had been restored. This was truly the best gift of all. As we pulled into our driveway, we saw our little Jeanie in the window, barking her head off as usual. We neednt have worried. Shed had her own little party. She had helped herself to the raw cookie dough on the cookie sheets on the table. No matter. The important thing was that we were home for Christmas. Tonight, Im making a big pot of beef stew in honor of sherry and Jerry, who selflessly demonstrated the true spirit of Christmas.