There are two people who regularly knock at my door in a “shave and a haircut, two bits” rhythm.
The first is the UPS driver who brings my vitamins. I like him.
The second is the neighborhood beat cop who comes to the door whenever our neighbor Miss Manners calls the police on us, or whenever a neighbor calls the police on us because Miss Manners’s harassment of us disturbed them. No one has the gumption to call the police on Miss Manners. I don’t dislike that policeman as a person, but I don’t relish his visits.
Early this afternoon, I was in bed in my pajamas, worrying, while Michael watched Rosie. A huge van pulled up outside, and my heart soared. Perhaps it was a surprise Christmas gift from someone.
I ran to the window, and found it was a delivery truck bringing new furniture to Miss Manners, who was hollering imprecations at the deliverymen. My heart sank to its usual dark place; I went back to my bed and my worries.
The noise of the idling van drowned out the sounds of anyone else driving up or down our street, so I was quite surprised when I heard a loud knock at my door in a “shave and a haircut, two bits” rhythm.
I cringed under the blanket. Was Miss Manners making another false 911 call? Or had one of the neighbors heard her hollering at the delivery men and called the police on us again?
I heard the door open and a man’s voice; then I heard my husband say “Oh, thank you.”
I peeked downstairs.
Two volunteers from The Friendship Room were dropping off a load of presents.
We’re so much better off than in previous years, I don’t usually think of us as poor. Yes, our income is mostly tips, and money’s always very tight. But we’ve got enough to buy groceries four weeks a month instead of going three weeks and then begging like we used to; we can even usually afford the weird esoteric herbal vitamins that keep my chronic fatigue syndrome under control if we’re careful. Still, we have very little for any “extras,” and this year Rosie had completely outgrown the ugly little futon mattress she was using to sleep on. We couldn’t afford big things like furniture, so we asked Molly from The Friendship Room if she knew anyone who was getting rid of a used twin bed frame, mattress and box spring.Molly asked around and brought us a brand new bed, plus a pre-lit Christmas tree they had no room for down at the Friendship Room. Instead of dragging out our years-old tree with the busted lights and no stand and trying to stuff it into a gift wrapped wastebasket to make it stay upright, I stood the new tree up on a proper stand. Rosie and I covered it in homemade ornaments. I considered myself rich.
“Do you have any Christmas wishes?” Molly had asked us after the tree and bed were dropped off.
And this was what the men were dropping off. We already had presents for Rose hidden upstairs but nothing at all for ourselves, and we’d ran out of money to get some bedding for the new bed as well. I told Rose that these tempting packages were mostly for Mommy and Daddy. Santa was bringing her gifts in four days.
Then the men left.
I examined the packages.
I thumped the packages.
I shook the packages.
Suddenly we were opening the packages. Santa was still bringing the toys in four days in honor of the Nativity; no reason not to open the gifts for Mommy and Daddy early.
I got a slow cooker to replace the one Michael accidentally melted while making Rose lunch.
Michael got a bookcase to replace the one that exploded at Thanksgiving.
We both got the snow boots we hadn’t bought because we used the money on Rose’s full suit of snow clothes.
Rosie got brand new Avengers-themed bedding for her bed, plus a pillow.
I felt richer than rich. I went upstairs to put Rose’s bedding on her bed. She snuggled under the covers and wouldn’t get up.
That was when I saw the gift bag in my room. As you recall, I challenged everyone to fill up a care package for a homeless person this Advent and send it to the Friendship Room for their Christmas Day Christmas party. I’d been doing it myself, grabbing one item at Dollar Tree every time I went to get something we needed. It was full and ready to go, but I’d forgotten to give it to the men to take back to the Friendship Room.
I’ll bring it downtown myself tomorrow.
Then I really will be rich.
(image via Pixabay)