Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Christmas Angel from Nebraska

This is a Garrison Keillor writing appropriate for the season:
...My own Christmas vision appeared three days before Christmas, in a deli on 10th Avenue in New York, where a rather elegant young woman was managing a herd of eight teenaged boys, ordering their breakfasts from the lady behind the counter. The boys spoke Spanish, which the young woman translated into English for the counter lady. I'm standing there, waiting my turn, observing. The boys are docile, cautious, soft-spoken, and then it dawns on me that they are so because of brain damage, mild retardation, however you want to put it, and the young woman is their hired shepherd. A teacher's aide, perhaps. Probably minimum wage. She is lovely, green-eyed, dark hair spilling down on a puffy parka, red wool scarf, and her English sounds very Midwestern to me.

The boys want muffins for breakfast except one boy who earnestly desires a sesame bagel, toasted, with cream cheese, but the deli is all out of sesame, and this is a cruel disappointment to him. He really was counting on it. When you are 14 and so desperately vulnerable in the big city, you do pin your hopes on certain small pleasures. His face crumples and he is about to melt, and the elegant young green-eyed woman puts her head down next to his where he sits slumped on the deli stool. Her pale cheek against his cheek, she murmurs to him and a string of his enormous tears runs onto her face and she wipes it away and says something in Spanish that makes him laugh. And then I notice at the end of her red scarf, the word "Nebraska." Nobody would wear this in New York except a Nebraskan.

I might've asked her a few questions, but she had turned her street face toward me, and so I didn't bother her. A girl from the prairie using her Spanish to care for damaged boys in a callous world where, contrary to everything the Savior said, the poor and powerless get short shrift -- in the U.S. Senate and elsewhere — and she is sharing the tears of the sesame boy and making him laugh. She's my Christmas angel. I hope she gets to go to a party and sing and dance until 3 a.m.


  1. Beautiful post. Thank you.

  2. What a beautiful's so good to see things like this happening.  She is truly an angel.  Thanks Nancy, and Merry Christmas!

  3. OMG, beautiful!  Thanks for sharing Nancy, HUGS!


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