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The Dancers Gift A Christmas Story

By Diane Girard

Its December 1989, and five hundred people look on in amazement at the lovely young woman standing between the grand piano and the lighted Christmas tree. The lobby of the veterans hospital chronic-care wing is overflowing with patients, family members, and every staff person who can steal away to sneak a peek.

Theyre waiting to see the belly dancer. Half the staff does not believe that those of us who work in the war veterans activities department are crazy enough to provide belly dancing as part of the Christmas entertainment. The other half know we are.

The music starts and the dancer dances. She holds the shimmering transparent veil high above her head and camel-walks slowly, sensuously towards the nearest man's wheelchair. She lowers the veil and places it over his shoulders. He has not responded to people in years but he gives the young dancer a beautiful smile. She moves, swaying and shimmying along the lines of veterans in wheelchairs and walkers. The silver coins on her bodice jingle and the jewel in her navel winks as she does a belly roll for the man with no nose. He reaches out to touch her arm and she takes his hand for a moment.

Barefoot, the dancer sinuously threads her way through the packed room clicking her zils and giving a dazzling smile to each patient. She is wearing several veils, and as she moves among the veterans she gives each veil away. She chooses the men and women who are the poorest in body and in spirit. Their eyes widen with surprise as the dancer wishes them Merry Christmas. The murmuring from the staff turns to applause and laughter.

Soon, the dancing is over but the dancer stays. I open the grand piano and we sing Christmas carols and other familiar songs. The young woman dances with the patients, holding hands with the men and women in wheelchairs and swaying to the music.

My daughter, the dancer, stays to the very end of the party, bringing the gift of Christmas joy.

Diane Girard is 59 years old and lives in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada near her family of a daughter and two grandsons. Diane began writing poetry and fiction in grade school and has continued to scribble for her own pleasure while earning a living in different ways. She has had several careers and is currently not considering becoming a consultant.

In the late 1960's, Diane worked in one of the first women's Information and Referral Centres in Canada. She also participated in consciousness-raising groups and duked it out on paper with a radical feminist leader who felt Diane should not be married. Diane returned to school part-time and became a Library Technician. There was no work in that field. She was sent to school by the government and became a bookkeeper. She disliked bookkeeping intensely. Diane worked for Bell Canada, the Law Reform Commission, a brokerage house and other employers too odious to mention before finding career happiness working with seniors. Diane sings in a local choir and is a classically trained pianist who now plays for her own amazement. She reads constantly and is addicted to poppy seed rolls and Tim Horton's coffee.

Flattering comments may be sent to her via e-mail at



©2002 Diane Girard for SeniorWomenWeb
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