Alfreda the Blanket Lady from Doylestown called me on Christmas Eve morning and told me she had completed another red, white and blue crocheted afghan. My mother was incredulous because we had just been there the week before to pick up three other blankets. How could she have made another one so soon?
I stopped by, had a cup of tea, talked and enjoyed a visit with Alfreda. Then she said, “Maybe you can give it to someone for Christmas.” I looked at the clock and it was almost 1 pm. I thought that would be impossible. I still had to stop at Red Lobster to get a few gift cards; my mother needed a bag of cranberries from Giant; I had to wash my hair and get dressed for the family Christmas Eve buffet that starts at 4 pm; my legs felt a little wobbly from my five mile walk and my four hours of line dancing the night before.
It only took a minute before I knew who should get the latest blanket. And right now – on Christmas Eve afternoon.
My mother and I had been visiting at a personal care home the day before and as we were getting on the elevator, a very pleasant man wished us a Merry Christmas. He looked very “together” and just seemed like a really nice man. The health issue was a motorized wheelchair and possibly limitations with using his hands – possible due to a stroke. I liked him. I liked chatting with him and so did my mother. He reminded me of my dad. They both had been insurance agents and had the type of personality that could sell “ice to the Eskimos.” So when I thought of the special gift, I thought of him. He might not “need it” but I knew he would really “appreciate the Alfreda blanket.” It was the strangest thing. I just had the urge to take a quick drive over there and try to find him again……..but what was his name and what room was he in?
But alas, it was not to be for the mystery man. It was meant for Dottie.
On my way into the facility, you had to be buzzed in or you had to know the code. A lady was sitting on the other side of the door, just waiting near the lobby door. She saw me struggling, trying to figure out how to admit myself. She told me how to do it. How could I not stay for a few minutes and chat with such a nice lady?
Are you waiting for someone?
No, not really. I have a gift here for the aide who gets me ready for bed. She is a real doll. She should be coming for her shift and I want to surprise her with it.
Are you from the area?
Oh, I have lived all over. Pottstown, upstate and for most of my happily-married life – in Lansdale.
Do you have any children?
Yes, but none that can visit me. One lives in Florida, one in Wisconsin and my son was killed by a drunk driver in 1969. My husband died 8 years ago.
You seem so cheery and positive, Dottie. You are like a breath of fresh air in here. You just seem to sparkle!
Actually, I just figure that every day is the Lord’s Day and I want to make Him glad that I am His child. That is where my roots are – in doing His work, wherever I might be. People have strife and conflict in their lives. We all do. We do not know the future but we have the present right now. Whether we have a year, a month, a day or an hour, there is something we can do for God’s Kingdom here on earth. That is the way I was churched and the way I raised my family. Life has been good to me. God is always by my side.
The blanket was on my lap. I thought of the man upstairs. I thought of Dottie waiting in the lobby. I whispered a silent prayer. God, who do you want me to give Alfreda’s Christmas present to?
I touched the soft blanket to Dottie’s sweet face as the rest of the lap blanket draped her body. I told her the heartwarming story of Alfreda and how she wanted me to give the red, white and blue blanket to someone. Dottie cried with great emotion. She couldn’t believe there was such a beautiful holiday gift for her. She told me she used to love to crochet blankets for people, too. Until she lost that ability due to frostbite on her fingers.
Christmas carols played in the background. I gave her a hug and went out the door to go to buy the cranberries. I couldn’t wait to call Alfreda to tell her that her giving spirit kind deed was on Dottie’s lap right now! This is what Christmas is really about. Not always piles of presents being opened, and credit card bills after Christmas from Bloomingdales and the hustle and bustle…..but perhaps, Alfreda, an 87-year-old resident who lives in a senior living community making a blanket that thrilled an 86-year-lady in a senior living community twenty miles away. One of God’s mysterious ways to bring peace, joy and hope on a sunny Christmas Eve afternoon.