The Gift of a Great Neigh­bor

Passed from one home to the next, a box of or­na­ments re­minds a fam­ily of the bonds around them

Reader's Digest - - Contents - by nicole bur­rell

My kids sit in Gee’s liv­ing room and rev­er­ently lift an­tique Christ­mas or­na­ments out of a wellloved card­board box. They gasp when they dis­cover a tiny stuffed cat. They gig­gle at Raggedy Ann, who is a for­eign char­ac­ter to them. Gee stands be­side them, qui­etly ex­plain­ing each trea­sure. She tells me that she and Tom built their or­na­ment col­lec­tion piece by piece dur­ing each year’s af­ter-christ­mas sale. She smiles as we leave with the box. Her pre­cious heir­looms, gath­ered over

Nicole Bur­rell is a Reader’s Di­gest reader from north­ern New Jer­sey.

a life­time, have found a new home.

We first met Tom and Gee in the early days of our mar­riage. Some­one had been re­turn­ing our garbage cans to the garage each garbage day, and Jim and I had won­dered who. Then one day we spot­ted him: an el­derly man who lived across the street.

I baked cook­ies and left them on a stool out­side the garage with a thank-you note. When we got home from work that day, a typed let­ter had re­placed the gift. The let­ter was from Tom and ex­plained how he had come to walk the neigh­bor­hood on garbage day, re­turn­ing cans for peo­ple he barely knew. Back when he’d been fight­ing a war I wasn’t alive to see, his young wife, Gee, had found her­self

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