Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Gift

My husband and I went out of town for the Christmas holidays. As is the case whenever we travel, our dogs must be boarded. This year we waited until six weeks before we were to leave to try to make arrangements for three of our four dogs. My husband's mother had offered to keep Missy, the toy poodle. The place we particularly like for boarding our dogs had been booked for months, and we were unable to find another place in town.

As a last resort, we called the veterinary hospital in a town at the coast where we spend some time. The vet there is a friend of ours and was able to arrange for us to board our dogs with him. His is the only veterinary hospital for several counties, and is located in a small and very poor fishing town on the mainland. On the opposite side of the bay there is an island with many large homes owned by wealthy folks from Georgia and Alabama. Most of the people in the fishing town are extremely poor and on public assistance. The contrast between the poverty of the town and the wealth of the nearby island is enormous.

It was nearly closing time when we went to pick up our dogs. I sat in the truck with Missy while my husband went in to pick up the other three dogs. Soon after my husband went inside the animal hospital, a local couple came out with their dog and got into an old beat up pick up truck parked next to ours. They were obviously fishermen. Immediately, the woman noticed Missy and waved to me. I held Missy up and the man held up their little dog to see her. The woman then said something to the man, but I could not tell what she said. She then got out of the truck and came over to me holding a brand new doggy tug toy in her hand. She handed it to me as I opened the door and said in a deep whiskey voice that they wanted Missy to have it. Then she wished me a Merry Christmas.

I was overcome by such a generous gesture from someone who obviously did not have a lot of material things. I thanked her several times and wished her a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year too. She gave me such a wonderful gift. Her real gift was not the toy, but the true spirit of Christmas by giving to another for the sake of giving. What a beautiful lady!

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