January 6th

THIS is a wonderful story from Ukraine, Mordochka. You’ll love it because it’s about your favorite subject: food. But there’s something even better and it will make you feel happy all the way down to your 18 little toes!

Photo courtesy, Unsplash!

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     It was the very start of the holiday season. A boy named Andrei had an idea—and his parents happily agreed to it. It was one of those ideas, Mordochka, that make people special. The Ukrainian family wanted to surprise two friends in America who they felt very close too. So, they used the internet to find a really nice restaurant in the town where their friends lived. Then they sent the restaurant $75. (Mordochka, that’s 2,130 Ukrainian hryvnia and that’s A LOT of dog cookies!)  

     Next, the restaurant sent the friends a beautiful little card inviting them to dinner with the gift certificate inside. But, Mordochka, there was no name on the gift certificate, so the friends didn’t know who it was from. They called the restaurant and said there must be some mistake. They didn’t know anyone who would give them such an expensive gift.

     But the restaurant said there was no mistake. They then explained that they got an email from a Ukrainian family asking that all this be done for their American friends. So then the friends knew who the gift was from and they were even more stunned. It wasn’t an ordinary gift, Mordochka. It was huge and it was totally unselfish and thoughtful and kind.    

     The next night the friends went to the restaurant to have their special dinner. Everything  was decorated in holiday decorations: a big tree, a fire in the fireplace, and candles in all the windows. The friends were taken to a small room lit in candle light. Their table was next to a window where they could look out and see families walking down the snowy, holiday streets.  Then they did something they’d never done before: they ordered all the most expensive things on the menu! (That was as much fun as eating what they ordered, Mordochka!) First they ordered a beautiful salad and tasty, cheesy hors d’oeuvre. (Sorry, I know this is making you hungry, but you have to hear what they ate or the story won’t be complete.) Then . . . are you ready for this? They ordered the most expensive dinner on the menu. The waitress smiled. The friends smiled and, just then, two men came into the room and sat down at the table across from theirs. They exchanged holiday greetings, like everyone does at that time of year. When the friends’ salads were brought to the table, one of the men smiled and said, “Those sure look good.”  

     The friends answered, “Would you like to try some? They are good!” Everyone laughed with that kind of musical laugh you have during the holidays. Each time something new was brought to the friends’ table, the same thing happened and so the dinner was filled with both good food and laughter. Finally, the friends ordered their favorite dessert. When the last bite had been eaten, they felt like it was the most special dinner they had ever had. As they waited for the waitress to bring the bill, they thought gratefully of all the joy their Ukrainian friends had given them. 

     The men across from them finished their meal first (because they hadn’t ordered so much) and got up to leave. The men said “Good-bye!” as they went out in that warm way people do during the holidays. Soon after the men left, the waitress came back and said, “There will be no bill for you tonight. One of the men at the table across from you paid for your dinner and asked me to wish you a Happy New Year.”

     Mordochka, the friends were shocked!  They didn’t even know the man’s name. They couldn’t even thank him. They couldn’t tell him that they would never forget him. 

     So you want to know, Mordochka, what happened to the gift certificate? Of course the friends used it! Two weeks later, they invited a friend who lived all alone to have Christmas dinner with them at the restaurant.  And, yes, they all ordered their favorite things on the menu.  That’s the wonderful thing about kindness, Mordochka, it always does more than we could ever have planned or imagined. 

—Told to us by the 2 friends

 ©InterestEng. July 2013 - November 2020 §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff photos or used with permission.  §  To contact us:  go.gently.on@gmail.com