Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Something For Nothing

My friend Dina is a shrewd shopper and clever bargain finder. Just as there are people who can wear clothes they have made for themselves without anyone suspecting they sewed them, there are people who can buy their Christmas presents at thrift shops and you'd never be the wiser. (Coincidentally, Dina does sew her own clothes and gets compliments on them; on the one occasion I had the temerity to do this, all I got was pitying glances.)

Dina also supports charities -- not just at Christmas, but throughout the year. But at Christmas, she goes all out. This year, everybody in her family exchanged things like contributions toward clean wells and inoculations for people in poor countries, donations to homeless shelters, and meals for the hungry. But they are also overflowing with holiday cheer: at this time of year, their house is full of heavenly cooking smells, beautifully decorated Christmas trees (Dina never settles for just one), and dozens of brightly-wrapped charity shop presents, all carefully and personally chosen. Their doors are decorated with wreaths that Dina made herself, the table is laden with mouth-watering homemade pies, cakes, and roasts -- and if she wasn't such an all-around generous and decent person, I would seriously envy Dina for the unfair distribution of talents she has been bestowed with.

Just before Christmas, Dina went to the supermarket. After she and her husband had paid for their groceries and were on their way out, she noticed a selection of tapas on special offer. A closer inspection revealed that some, which were close to their sell-by date, were going for almost nothing. Dina has a large extended family and she entertains frequently, so she bagged the lot and went back to pay the grand total of 88 pence for a feast's worth of tapas. Just listening to Dina tell this story made me grit my teeth in envy: I love tapas and I like getting a bargain even better. "But I'm not finished!" she said, when I told her as much.

After the tapas had been rung up and Dina and her husband had dug out a pound to pay, the check-out lady frowned at her register. "Hang on -- you get some money back for buying these in bulk."

And she handed Dina and her husband two pounds and 66 pence -- all for the pleasure of carrying off a feast's worth of olives, marinated peppers, sun dried tomatoes and other delicacies.

Dina immediately put the £2.66 into the charity box. Like I said, she's a hard person to envy.


Lisa Shafer said...

Some folks really do deserve the title of "saint." Sounds like your friend here is one of those folks. :)

Miss Footloose | Life in the Expat Lane said...

Glad she shares her talents! I often wish I were more creative in my living skills, knew how to make something from nothing, or get good bargains like your friend. But hey, we can't all be the same or it would be a boring world.

Charles Gramlich said...

Wow, I wish I was half, uh, a quarter that good.

Vijaya said...

You don't have to envy her, but I do. She's very, very blessed.

Anonymous said...

You choose excellent friends, Mary!

Aledys Ver said...

Blessed with many talents and even more important, blessed with a huge heart.
Happy New Year to you and your friend!

Eryl said...

Please tell me she's clumsy, or she picks her nose in public, or you once saw her kick a dog...

Ruth Kelly said...

Very talented, your Dina.

Linnhe Mara said...

Sounds like we could all learn a little from Dina, but it would be comforting for this mere mortal to know she had at least one fault.

Jaye Robin Brown said...

Thanks for sharing such a great story.

Mary Witzl said...

Lisa -- You don't know the half of it, either. She's got her faults, but I swear, you wouldn't believe all the stuff she can do or all the things she does for other people.

Miss Footloose -- I tell myself the same thing. I know I'm not uncreative, but I don't have Dina's scope or her versatility. But mainly, I don't have her generosity of spirit. It really irritates me, but then it takes all kinds to make the world.

Charles -- She can plumb, wire, butcher her own meat, grow her own vegetables, and bake cakes that would put professional bakers to shame. She even fixed our car once. Sickening, isn't it?

Vijaya -- She really is. She gives from the heart without considering what she will get back. AND she can forgive people who've wronged her. It's hard not to envy that -- and it's pretty tough to emulate her too.

AnneB -- That is true. A good look around the people who have commented here will confirm that. ;o)

Aledys -- Yes, and it's her big heart that makes it so tough to envy the socks off her.

A Happy New Year to you too!

Eryl -- She's not clumsy, but she can't swim -- that much I can affirm. I'm petty enough to be thrilled that I can do at least ONE thing she can't.

Ruth -- Yes, and it's SO irritating! She can do cartwheels too.

Linnhe -- She can't play a musical instrument (that I'm aware of). Or maybe she can and she's just faking the inability so people won't think she's insufferable.

Jaye -- You are welcome. I always dream of getting something for nothing myself and would almost pay for the joy of accomplishing this.

Kim Ayres said...

Happy New Year, Mary - hope it's a good one for you and family :)

Pat said...

This makes me think of the comedienne who used to say:
'She's my best friend - I hate her!'
She sounds a paragon.

Carole said...

Great story Mary. So glad the world has people like her. Gives us hope for us all.