Mo’s Christmas Story – It’s not always better to give.

It’s not always better to give than to receive. 

I’ve often wondered what happened to Sally Lawler.  I first met tall Sally was when I was a freshman at Montclair State College.  She floated across the cafeteria with her blonde hair cascading down her dramatic black cape, her elegant hand waving in the air as she crossed the room to join us.   My boyfriend Ray knew her from his politics class and said we’d become fast friends. He was right. 

Sally played the flute, visited Caracas on winter breaks, and spoke as if she’d gone to boarding school.  Had she told me she’d been raised by servants in the French countryside, I would have believed her, though there wasn’t a pinch of phoniness to her.  She’d actually grown up in Rockaway, New Jersey, lived in a humble home, worked at the Shop Rite, and at 19 was engaged to marry Joe McEvoy, the 27 year old store manager.   Still, she was the most naturally sophisticated woman I had ever met. 

We’d play pool downstairs next to the Rathskeller, where she’d throw her head back, laugh at my jokes, and say, “Oh, let’s do this again soon.”    And we would.

She invited me to have dinner with her and Joe at Gino’s Italian Restaurant in Dover, New Jersey.   After dinner, with Joe sitting by her side, she handed me a wrapped gift and said “You’ve been such a lovely friend to me.  I want you to have this.”    I opened the box and inside was a gold bracelet.   It wasn’t my birthday.   We weren’t exchanging Christmas presents.   She just wanted to give me a present for being her friend.

After that night, I avoided Sally.   I was embarrassed.   I couldn’t afford to treat for dinner the next time or buy a gift in return.   So, in shame, I walked away from Sally’s friendship.  It’s something that’s bothered me over the years.   I thought who I was wasn’t enough, and maybe for some it isn’t, but for many it is.  I see that in the good friends who are in my life today.   I only wish I knew it sooner.  Accepting graciously and letting people love you for who you are is a fine, fine gift indeed.     Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, especially to you Sally Lawler, wherever you are.

8 replies
  1. Jay Carson
    Jay Carson says:

    What a touching and evocative, story. We’ve all felt that lack of worth. I knew a guy who said he’s rather get a beating than a present. Thanks for the great and timely message, Mo.


  2. Maureen Langan
    Maureen Langan says:

    When you get a present AND a beating, now that is a mixed message! (I’m not sayng I know anything about that, but I’m not saying I don’t!).
    Thank you for reading my blog and for your comments. They always mean a lot to me. You are my dawg, and always will be.
    Merry Christmas,
    lil sista

  3. Ronald McD
    Ronald McD says:

    soooooo just because I gave you a car in High School, you’ve been avoiding me all these years?

    Great story Maur, as usual! I hope you reconnect with her. Try LinkedIn or Facebook

  4. Wendy Pigsfly
    Wendy Pigsfly says:

    Well, I wouldn’t worry about it Mo. I’m from Rockaway NJ and that’s just how we roll (presents). BTW, everyone knew that the cashiers at Shoprite made pretty good money back in the day.


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