Maria was cooking up a storm. This would be her first Christmas dinner and she had it planned right down to the last detail--food, special deserts and where everyone would sit. Maria had just turned twenty-one and was the oldest in a family of four sisters and two brothers. She was still single but her boyfriend Jeff would be coming and so she wanted everything perfect. Her small apartment on East Twenty-First Street, in the heart of small town Ohio, would soon be buzzing but for now, all was quiet.
She began her cooking around six in the morning and had everything lined up just the way her mother and grandma used to do when preparing a large meal. From her conversations with the family the past few days, it looked like everyone would be attending; so that meant ten people would be arriving for dinner Christmas day around one in the afternoon. So, there was no time to waste.
Maria as a little girl was always in the kitchen when cooking was going on—especially around the holidays. Why, she used to stay overnight with her grandma the night before Christmas and then early that morning, do whatever grandma needed done to make the dinner delicious and memorable.
She knew how to prepare a scrumptious turkey, delicious dressing and how to prepare wonderful salads and pies. Knowing all of this gave her a confident feeling and a preparedness to meet any and all expectations of a wonderful Christmas dinner.
Around eight in the morning, she began making the pies. She was going to have several pumpkin pies and several apple pies. Everyone loved one or both of them; so she was on the right track for pleasing everyone. She finished up with both pies, put them into the oven and began her next project…..the Turkey.
About fifteen minutes into preparing the turkey, the phone rang. She knew it might mean bad news; way too early on Christmas for a phone call.
She answered the phone. “Good Morning! This is Maria…”
The person on the other end replied, “Hello Maria? This is your brother, Anthony. I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.”
“Anthony! Good to hear from you. Wasn’t sure if you would be coming, with all your college and job work. What is it? I hope no one is ill or hurt…”
“No, it’s nothing like that but I am having a problem here at school. There’s been a young woman stalking me and she said that if I didn’t invite her to your Christmas dinner, that she would do something to embarrass me and my family. Now, I’m afraid to come because she’s acting quite unstable and I wouldn’t want her to mess up the holiday. I know how hard you’re working to make it nice for everyone…”
“Anthony, you just come and don’t worry about that woman. We can handle anything or anyone!”
“Thanks, Maria. I’ll be there and I’ll be on the lookout for her, should she try anything goofy.”
“No problem, Anthony. See you later.”
Maria continued on with her dinner preparations and soon it was twelve o’clock and family members began to arrive.
Anthony finally showed up around a quarter to one and after exchanging “hellos” and “so good to see you,” everyone sat down and Maria’s father began the family prayer when a knocking was heard at the front door.
Maria walked to the door and looked through the peep-hole. It was a young woman and she looked upset. “Anthony, I think your friend is here. Does she have long brown hair and blue eyes?”
“Yes, that’s her. Be careful.”
Slowly Maria opened the door and said, “Yes, may I help you?”
“Is Anthony here?”
“Yes, may I ask who is calling?”
“This is Darlene and I want to speak with him!”
“Anthony and the rest of my family are preparing to have Christmas dinner. Can I help you?”
She looked downcast and said, “No, that’s alright. I shouldn’t be here. To tell the truth, I’m so lonely. I just wanted to be with family today. My parents are out of state and I didn't want to be alone. I’ll just leave.” She began to cry..
“Look, we have plenty of food. Why don’t you come in and join us.”
Well, it took awhile but about five minutes later, she came in and Maria whispered in her heart later that day, “Was one of the best Christmas meals, ever!”
Turned out that Darlene was lonely and just wanted to be with Anthony. Maria could tell, too, that Anthony cared for her for he confided days later that he liked her but thought she was coming on too strong.
Sometimes "iffy" situations work out. Such was the case with Maria, Anthony and Darlene....
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