I live in Vermont. I live in a small town in Vermont. I live on a dead-end street in a small town in Vermont. I have wonderful neighbors on this dead-end street in this small town in Vermont.
Aunt Gert, as she's been known for all the years I've lived here, is as tough as nails and as soft as a bunnie. Her family has lived in Pownal for generations, and Aunt Gert herself has lived on my dead-end street since she retired quite a few years ago. (I used to be a journalist, and obviously have grown tired of letting facts get in the way of a good story, so just let it go, OK?)
Last year, when Wendy and I and the faculty and staff at the Pownal Elementary School were collecting clothes and toys for local kids in need, Aunt Gert called up and wondered if we would like some stuffed animals.
Yup, sure would, and I'll be right over.
Well, it wasn't quite that easy. Aunt Gert is quite a collector. Down in her basement there were bags upon bags upon bags of bears, rabbits, dollies, barbies, cabbage patch creatures - you name it.
And they were there for the taking. What a joy to sift through decades of memories - not so many of mine as Wendy's - as we sorted through all sorts of little people and creatures just waiting for loving companions.
There were so many of these little friends that we had to store scores of them for "next year." And earlier tonight, we pulled out all those bags, and were able to recall all those happy moments from last year, and anticipate many more this year to come.
So, thanks Gert, and thanks to everyone who helps make the holidays a special time for those in need.