I accidentally stole from the elderly

My first Christmas card wasn’t meant for me. It arrived in a white envelope on Dec. 13, 2001, with a Santa stamp and a wreath on the return label. It was addressed to a woman named Mayme.

Edwin of Missouri needed to update his records. I’d lived in my place — the first on my own — for three months. No Mayme in sight. I put the letter on my desk and planned to send it back to him the next day.

And then I forgot about it. Completely. Didn’t send it back to Edwin, didn’t track down Mayme. That letter sat there on my desk until the snow melted.

Maybe I should have sent it then, in the spring, but I didn’t. In fact I hauled that card around for years, from Kansas to Michigan to Ohio, five moves in all. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away. Once in awhile I’d find it and wonder about Mayme and Edwin and think about what a bad person I was for not sending that card back.

It got worse when I finally opened it.

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