By Josette Keelor
When Katherine "Kate" Neal visited with Santa Claus this year, she told him she had been a very good girl. But Neal isn't one of Santa's typical visitors. A Strasburg resident all her life, Neal is 96.
She and longtime friend Sue Garrett visited with Santa at the Apple Blossom Mall in Winchester on Monday.
"She giggled and laughed like she was a little kid and had a wonderful time, and she hasn't done that in a number of years," Garrett said,
"She told me she's been a good girl," Garrett said. "She enjoys Christmas."
On Wednesday, while reminiscing about the experience, Garrett said the two friends were preparing to bake cookies. As one of Neal's independent caregivers, Garrett said she recently accompanied Neal to a local orchard as well.
"She's been a dear friend for 11 1/2 years," said Garrett. Now of Toms Brook, she said the two met when they were neighbors.
Already having amassed many wonderful memories together, the pair added this week's visit with Santa to other past holiday joys.
Only a couple weeks ago the two friends purchased a Christmas tree before returning to Neal's house to decorate it with accompanying Christmas music.
"We've never done that with her and she hasn't done it probably in 20 years since her husband passed away," said Garrett.
"She's been like a mother to me and a grandmother to my children," Garrett said. Neal has two sons of her own, as well as six grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.
"She's very much a people person," she said. "And loved by many people."
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org