A Christmas Story

Each year as I prepare for my holiday baking, I take an inventory of the ingredients and spices I keep in my pantry. I always plan a special trip to select and purchase the things that I need to refill or replace before I begin. As part of my personal Christmas celebration, I visit a shop that I set foot in only once a year. It sells spices and oils along with an array of unusual baking supplies that truthfully are more expensive than I would normally consider purchasing. For me this trip is a pure indulgence and I must always carefully set a budget because it is just too tempting to get carried away. It’s always crowded during the holiday season but they prepare little treats to taste and something warm to drink while you wait for your turn to be served. I never mind waiting because everything is displayed and wrapped so beautifully and just looking around is a feast for my eyes.

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Last year something happened in the shop that I will never forget. As I was waiting in line, the woman behind me was very irritable. She shifted her weight back-and-forth and occasionally bumped into me, then she would apologize. She complained under her breath that there should be more people available to serve the customers and more than once deemed the situation ridiculous. I imagined that she must of been in a hurry, so I turned to her and smiled. I offered her my place in the line explaining that I was not in a hurry at all and I would be happy for her to go before me. She refused and said that wasn’t necessary and it was not my fault that they didn’t have enough people working in the store. I insisted, telling her it would be a Christmas gift to me if she would allow me to help her with her shopping trip. She still did not smile but replied, “I don’t know what difference this will make, but okay.” As she moved around me I noticed that she was not very stable and her face appeared drawn with pain. A few more minutes passed as customers ahead of us were helped until finally we stepped forward and she was to be served next. She complained bitterly to the young girl who rang up her purchase and continued to be distraught while waiting for the transaction to be completed.

As she turned to leave we were standing face-to-face with a crowd of people all around us. I smiled and said, “Merry Christmas.” For just a moment her face softened as she said, “Thank you sweetheart, yesterday I was fitted with this new prostatic leg and it does not suit me very well. It was very nice of you to give me your place in line.” She managed a weak smile and said, “Merry Christmas.” I reached out to give her a hug but only managed to gently place one hand on her shoulder. I was overcome with emotion and could only whisper another small, “Merry Christmas.”

I always tell my children to be kind to everyone because you never know where someone has just come from or what they might be experiencing.  So as I set out today to purchase a bit of vanilla and cinnamon, I will remind myself that anyone I meet could be facing a challenge much greater than just waiting in line. I will remember to be kind and wish them all a Merry Christmas.

remember, goodness grows,

Heather

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