Hazel McGreedy was not in the holiday mood and Christmas was just two weeks away. Harold lost his job, had a new job at Fox and Spencer Law firm but was not making the usual “big bucks” that Hazel and her children were accustomed to. There would be no big party, no big meal and no fantastic gifs for her and the children. She was really depressed and didn’t know how she would get through the holidays.
Harold was busy with his new job and their children, now in high school, were still hoping that a miracle would occur and they would have the usual big Christmas. After all, they were The McGreedys and they wanted to hold on to their high standards—that of money and power—so that they could remain big cheeses in their neighborhood.
Most of the neighbors on their block didn’t like them or want to be around them because they were so greedy; except for the Shellfish Family who lived on the next block. The Shellfish family was a lot like the McGreedy family in that they loved material things, rich and expensive food, fancy parties and all the latest electronic gadgets. Why, they were always on their cell phones, interacting on their iPods and playing games on the Internet and all the while being obnoxious with everyone.
As Hazel sat in her large dining room and pondered what they could do on Christmas and what Christmas presents they could afford to buy, she heard the phone ring.
“Hello, Hazel? It’s me, Harold.” He always said that because he didn’t want to frighten Hazel.
“Yes Harold. What is it?” She was unhappy and disappointed with Harold. After all, his new job was just not bringing in the money she needed for her and the children to be happy.
“Hazel, I just thought of something we all can do to make this holiday happier.”
Hazel paused a few minutes and thought to herself, “This has got to be lame, for sure.”
“Hazel, why don’t we invite some of neighbors over for a holiday meal? Did you know that the husbands on the next block over have lost their jobs? I’m sure they’re hurting much worse than us. What do you say?”
“Harold, why on earth should we do this? We’re struggling ourselves! No. I won’t do it!”
Harold knew he was beat, so he dropped the subject but every night for five days he prayed, “God, please open Hazel’s heart and let her see the good that would come from having those families over for Christmas dinner.”
As the days went by, Hazel’s conscience began to bother her. She kept pushing the guilty thoughts aside but the thoughts kept coming back. So, a week before Christmas, she personally called each family and invited them over for Christmas dinner. There would be 20 people coming and that meant she had to hustle to make sure everything was ready. She got her sister, Elizabeth, to help her and also her two children—Harriett and Henry. At first, they didn’t want to do it but after they found out that there would be teenage children coming, they got involved and interested.
At Christmas dinner, they all sat around Hazel’s big dinning room table and John, a neighbor who was out of work prayed, “Dear God, thank you for Hazel and her family inviting us over for this lovely Christmas dinner; a dinner none of us could have had without her and her family’s kindness.” As he spoke, Hazel, a woman who was often cold and calculating with most everyone in her life, found tears flowing down her face.
After the prayer, food was passed around and Hazel whispered to her husband, “I’m glad we did this. It was the right thing to do.” Years later Hazel would recall how good she felt preparing a Christmas meal for those who had so little and even though she was a selfish woman, that day changed her attitude and behavior—at least for awhile.
Copyright Toni Star 203