SANTA COMES TO JOAN

SANTA COMES TO JOAN

From Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work

Santa Comes to Joan

Friendships multiply joys and divide grief.

Thomas Fuller

Every office has a Joan, or should have. She’s the one everyone looks to when the workload gets too heavy. She’s the one with the good story and the ready laugh. For our Christmas party, she’s the one who transforms our sterile corporate conference room, Christmas after Christmas, with linen tablecloths, miniature Christmas trees with tiny white lights, real teacups, teapots and plates she had brought from home.

Joan is also a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed with lung cancer early this year. It has been a very difficult time for her, facing her own mortality again, and suffering from a vision problem that not only has added further complications to her health and well-being, but has also caused her to miss many days of work. This has added financial stress to her medical concerns. So this year, instead of drawing names and giving each other gifts at Christmas, we put our dollars together for Joan. At the Christmas party, we presented her with a series of gift certificates.

Joan’s vision problem had been a daily battle. At times, taking her turn to relieve the receptionist at the switchboard, Joan couldn’t see the numbers well enough to transfer callers to the right extension. Her doctor had prescribed new glasses, but she hadn’t filled the prescription because she didn’t have the money. The first gift certificate was for a new pair of eyeglasses.

We live in Minnesota, where the winters are extremely cold and heating bills can be formidable. Joan didn’t know what she was going to do this year. The next certificate was for payment toward her gas bill.

Because she is a cancer patient, Joan has been encouraged to include more fresh fruits and vegetables in her diet. We decided to help her do what’s best for her body with a grocery certificate.

And finally, we gave her a certificate to a local department store, all for her.

Joan accepted our gifts with a gracious spirit and thanked us for giving her courage on the really bad days. Then she told us that when she was six or seven, the kids at school told her there was no Santa Claus. That year, she asked for things she knew her parents couldn’t afford, just to test dear old Santa. Her mother, determined that at least for one more year Joan would believe, managed to get everything on Joan’s list.

This year, Joan told us, felt like that long-ago Christmas. She could now believe once again that dreams really did come true. It was our best Christmas party ever.

Angela Barnett

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