Kate Kilsingers’ aunt Sally had always said that “Christmas is a time for giving, receiving and sharing.” Kate believed that motto. This year everything was working out for Kate to practice that motto, thanks to aunt Sally.
Today was the day she was going to get her Christmas gift. It was a crisp, cold December day. Kate dressed warmly. Carefully, she turned down the thermostat to 52. She picked up her bag and left the small mobile home she called home. There was no snow yet, but it was cold enough to be icy on the pavements of Louisville, Ky. Kate walked cautiously. She needed new boots but couldn’t afford them now. Not if she wanted to pay the taxes come March. The taxes came first. Kate never wanted to be homeless again.
It was a two mile walk to the food bank but Kate couldn’t afford the bus both ways. It’d be better to ride home with her bag of food. Kate was used to walking and it showed in her slim legs and ankles despite the bulky leg warmers over her jeans. She was barely out of breath when she got to her destination.
She joined a crowd forming in front of the food bank. Several people spoke to her – Kate knew them. She pulled out packages out of her bag for a number of them. “But I didn’t get you anything.” protested one woman with few teeth in her mouth and very sparse hair. ” I didn’t get you anything, either, Susanna. I made all these. I hope you like yours.” Kate cocked her head worriedly, her blue eyes doubtful. “You see, I know how to loom knit and my aunt had some looms she left me. So I made hats and scarves and gloves for folks for Christmas. I got the yarn for free from someone who advertised online to get rid of it.” Susannas’ mouth hung open, showing her few teeth at this information. But then the crowd started forming into a line and filing inside. The doors were opening.
Kate had left 3 packages inside her bag. She shopped the food bank carefully – 1 loaf of bread, a package of ground beef, some boxed and canned foods and a special treat – a very small ham. At the counter, she showed the volunteers that she hadn’t taken more than she should have and gave each of them one of the packages. They were touched, she could tell. She left the food bank feeling good. Susanna was ahead of her, with two bags. The package Kate had given her was on top of one of them.
The bus ride home was uneventful. But a nightmare awaited her . Her mobile home had been broken into. The thieves had taken very little – there was little to take. The television had been left behind as too old to worry about. But the VCR was gone. About 20 long gold plated necklaces had hung over the back of the bedroom door. They were all gone. Kate was sorry about those – they’d been a safety net in case she ever needed money. But they, like almost everything in the house, were inherited with the home so she tried to not be too devastated. At least the tax money and her holiday money was on her. The thieves had stolen her rolled coins, though. That was a big loss. She’d planned to buy personal supplies with them. The food bank didn’t have a lot of them. Now she’d have to stretch the toilet tissue and shampoo for another week until she worked again.
The thieves had swept through the mobile home park. One neighbor had lost over a thousand dollars worth of Christmas presents under their tree. Kate was shocked that they had a thousand dollars to spend. Still, they had 3 kids, including a teenager. She wished she had money to give towards their replacement fund. But she couldn’t give up her own Christmas gift.
She’d waited for five years for a chance to get a cat from the pound. Most of that time she’d been homeless. This fall, she’d inherited aunt Kates’ house. She’d worked hard to save enough money to bring a cat home from the pound. Today she was going to do that.
She worked diligently to get her home tidy. It felt dirty after the robbery. She put away her groceries . Then she was ready for her Christmas present. She walked to the pound with a cat carrier that she’d found at a thrift store for .50.
It was five miles to the pound and the temperature was at 28 degrees. Kate didn’t notice the discomfort, though. She was too excited to worry about anything.
At the pound the cat was waiting. Kate had met her a few times. She was an older kitty, about 4 years old. Being all black didn’t help her, though Kate thought she was beautiful. The shelter people said her name was Tinker Bell. Kate planned to add an e to the end of Bell and put a pink collar on her. She’d found one at the dollar store already, with a bell on it. Tinker Belle went quietly into the carrier while the Kate paid for the spay and shots the cat had received. They left for the bus stop. Tinker Belle had a snuggle that she’d used at the shelter and Kate was intrigued to find they were made and donated by volunteers.
The bus was crowded again and some rude children poked at Tinker Belle through her box to make her hiss. But Kate got her home safely. She turned up the heat to 60 degrees and opened the carrier to let Tinker Bell out.
Tinker Belle explored her new home while Kate fixed a small dinner for each of them, just cereal with just a bit of milk and some water to stretch it out for her, a half a packet of cat food for Tinker Belle. She also set out water and dry kibble for the cat to find. Then she sat in her small den and watched TV. She didn’t have cable but the local channels worked for mindless entertainment while she loomed another hat for a lady at church.
Kate was pleased when Tinker Belle came to sit beside her, watching her yarn move with interest but not batting at it, yet.
Last year she was homeless and alone. Now she had a home. Last year she’d had nothing to give anyone, though she’d volunteered her time to the church and helped prepare baskets for home bound church members. She’d made over 40 presents this year. Last year she’d eaten at a shelter. Tonight she’d eaten in her own little kitchen. Now she was warm, dry, and best of all she had a cat sitting with her. Gently, she stoked Tinker Belle. The cat didn’t object. ” I think we’re going to be friends, little girl. I think we’re both home” Aunt Sally had been right. Christmas is the season for giving, receiving and sharing.