It was Christmas Eve last year, and oh, how I had dreaded its arrival. I knew I shouldn’t feel that way, but the silence inside my house was unbearable. My only company was the television, and most shows didn’t hold my interest long. I had my daily Bible reading and my prayers, too, and I tried not to think about the past.
However, when the Christmas season arrived, I couldn’t help thinking about the happier times of Christmases past. Then I thought about earlier that year, in spring, when my husband, Ted, went to be with the Lord. Ours had been a good marriage, and what made losing Ted even more difficult was that most of the family on his side and mine were all gone as well.
It was my first lonely Christmas without Ted, and the only decoration I put out was the Nativity scene, which I displayed on the dining room table where my family had once gathered in happy excitement, surrounded by good food, love and laughter.
I hadn’t forgotten that the true meaning of Christmas was to celebrate our Lord’s birthday. In my heart, I was happy I had a Lord and Savior who cared for me and was always there for me, but I had such a yearning for someone to love and hug on that Christmas Eve.
“God, please help me cope with my loneliness,” I prayed as I stood at my front window in the late afternoon and gazed out past the front yard to the street.
The Good Deed
I looked across to my neighbors’ house. Patrick and Desarae McDonnell had a young son, Aiden, and a teenage daughter, Alyssa. I could see their Christmas tree decorated with colorful ornaments and bright lights. In my imagination, I heard the happy sounds of family love as they sat down to Christmas Eve dinner.
Suddenly the doorbell rang. I opened it to find Aiden McDonnell standing there.
“Merry Christmas, Mrs. Adams,” Aiden said, grinning happily as he held a little black Scottie. Then, with his free hand, he offered me a plate wrapped in foil. “Mom wanted to share some of our Christmas Eve dinner with you, She hopes you’ll enjoy it.”
“Why, thank you, Aiden!” I said, holding the warm paper plate smelling of delicious food. “How thoughtful of your mother! Give her a big hug for me.”
“I guess Mom told you Molly, our Scottie dog, had three puppies a few months ago. It’s too many puppies for us. We thought maybe you might like to have this little guy to keep you company. We call him Mac, short for MacDonald, a good Scottish name.”
“Oh, Aiden, he’s precious,” I said softly, as Aiden put the squirming puppy in my arms. “How kind of you all! I’d love to have Mac.” Tears filled my eyes as I added, “Thank you for thinking of me. Please take some homemade oatmeal-raisin cookies to your family.”
“Thanks, and Mom told me to tell you she hopes you’ll have Christmas dinner with us about 2 o’clock. I’ll come over and get you,” Aiden said.
This time a few tears escaped and rolled down my cheeks. Aiden tried to avoid my eyes, but I’m sure he saw them. I gave him a quick hug and said, “Tell your mother thank you for the invitation. I’ll look forward to coming over.”
With a plate of cookies in his hands, Aiden crossed the yard, then turned, waved and said again, “Merry Christmas, Mrs. Adams.”
“Merry Christmas, and thank you all again,” I said, as a squirming Mac wriggled in my arms. I closed the door, looked at my precious gift and said, “And I love you, too, Mac,”
Then I said a thank you to God for answering my prayer. He, through my wonderful and caring neighbors, gave me a puppy to love and hug.
Mac and I are great friends. He keeps me busy and active as I follow him around the house and take him out for exercise – and, yes, he’s spoiled, just as he should be.
My friends, the McDonnells, are always checking in on me, and I’ve not had an attack of loneliness again. I’ll never forget that happy Christmas Eve when God answered my prayers through the McDonnells, as they blessed me with neighborly love.
Read more tales of generosity by CAPPER's readers in Stories of Helping Others.