Clarabelle clattered down the hall with her walker and entered her room. Pain shot through her hip, reminding her of what had landed her in this dismal place the week before Christmas. The spunky eighty five year old had no regrets about climbing a ladder to wash her kitchen window. She did wish, however, that the ground had been softer beneath it.
After three weeks in the hospital Clarabelle had landed here. In her usual optimistic way she had decided to make the best of retirement home living, but that was proving harder than expected. The other residents seemed glum. “Sourpusses –all of them!” muttered Clarabelle, clucking her tongue. “I’ve never seen such a miserable lot. Something’s got to be done.”
Reaching her desk, Clarabelle wondered why things looked fuzzy. “Did I loose my glasses?” she asked aloud. “They’re probably right on top of my head,” she promptly answered herself. When she reached for them, however, they weren’t there. “Well, never mind. I can do what I intend to do without glasses.”
Clarabelle pulled open the middle desk drawer and lifted out a small box. “I knew I had some Christmas cards in here,” she spouted with satisfaction, and then quickly set to work. ‘If I’m the only one with Christmas cheer, then I’ll just have to spread it around.”
Clarabelle spent the afternoon signing “Love, Clarabelle” at the bottom of each card…or was it the top? Sometimes it was hard to tell. She sealed them in envelopes, and on the front of each she printed, “For You.” Until she learned their names, it would have to do.
At four-forty Clarabelle slipped the cards into the pocket of her polka-dot duster and headed back to the dining room. Marcy, the kitchen assistant was filling water glasses. “You’re a little early, Clarabelle,” she said.
“Just as I was hoping. I need to pass these Christmas cards around before everyone gets here.”
“How nice of you, Clarabelle! Say, are these your glasses? I found them after lunch today.” The girl held something in her outstretched hand, and Clarabelle brightened.
“Oh, that’s where they are! I can be a little scatter-brained sometimes.” Clarabelle donned the glasses, causing the room to come into focus. “Now that’s better. Ooh. My handwriting doesn’t look so good, does it?”
“It’s fine, Clarabelle. Do you need some help passing these around?”
“That sure would be kind of you.”
They finished just as the first diners shuffled in, heads drooped, shoulders sagging. Clarabelle crossed her gnarled fingers and breathed a prayer as she retreated to her own table.
More folks arrived and began opening their cards. Soon the room was buzzing with conversation, though Clarabelle couldn’t hear what was being said. She pretended not to notice when some peeked over their cards and pointed her way. She could hardly conceal her excitement.
The chatter in the room continued to mount. Was that laughter she heard? Her plan was working! Clarabelle was a little puzzled, however by those at her own table. They looked uneasy and were shifting uncomfortably in their chairs. Finally Fred, who sat across from her, broke the silence. “I’m single, you know. But thanks, anyway.” Clarabelle hadn’t known, and his remarks confused her.
She reached for his card and was astounded to read: Happy Anniversary. May your love continue to blossom. Her mouth fell open and she snatched the card from the gentleman beside her: Happy Birthday to a special boy! A wrinkled woman in a wheelchair extended her card sporting a stork. It read: A new arrival? Bet you’re proud as can be! Clarabelle clapped her hand over her mouth and gasped, but soon began to chuckle. The chuckle became contagious laughter, and soon everyone was guffawing and slapping their knees.
“Oh my,” she finally managed, swiping at tears, “I just wanted to spread a little Christmas cheer. You see, I left my glasses in the dining room, and I thought these were Christmas cards …” A fresh batch of giggles ensued.
“Well, Ms. Clarabelle, you’ve achieved your goal,” Marcy announced, approaching. “You’ve spread some Christmas cheer and you've started a few rumors, too.” Marcy turned to the frail wheelchair-bound woman. “Just where have you been hiding that new little one, Mary Lou?” she teased.
Dinner that evening was delightful, and in the following days Clarabelle received a mountain of Christmas cards -mostly handmade. Her favorite, however, was a heart-shaped one that read: Be My Valentine. Merry Christmas! Love, Fred
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