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Tis The Season


Two days ago, I made an old man cry. It wasn't my intention, I assure you. I vacillated between keeping this story to myself or sharing it with others to make a point. I leave it to you to decide whether I made a smart choice in doing the latter...

Dave took care of Baby Jaymun Monday in the hospital. Our oldest, Ben, had a band concert at his high school Monday night, and it was important to me that I be there to hear him play. While our children were in school that morning, I tried to run some quick errands. I had some items to return at a store, so I decided to start with that. As I walked into the store (which was Target, for those who thrive on details), I couldn't help but notice the Salvation Army bellringer outside the doors. I think it's a shame that due to some " naysayers", the Salvation Army has had to move further and further away from the actual entrance to avoid insulting anyone who believes that Christmas is now just a "Season's Greeting" kind of holiday. I noticed the bellringer because he was waving energetically to every single person who walked past him and into the store. He had an enormous smile on his face and he greeted each person with a loud, "Merry Christmas to you!" I admire anyone who ignores the politically correct salutation of "Happy Holidays" and can belt out a strong "Merry Christmas" instead. It didn't matter if people dropped change into his red tin bucket or not--he persisted in his mission regardless.

I should preface this story by saying it was COLD outside. And windy. Snow had started flying and people were walking briskly just to get inside the warm store. I made eye contact with him and he smiled and yelled, "Oh my, it's freezing out here! Merry Christmas to you!" I noticed that although he was dressed appropriately, he was clearly shivering, and well on his way to becoming a human popsicle. I walked into the store and the idea came to me that it would be wonderful to just bless this kind old man for standing out in the cold on behalf of the Salvation Army. He could have been selfish that day and stayed indoors at home, with his feet propped up in a cozy Lazy Boy recliner. But he didn't. He chose to take a few hours of his time to help out an organization that is widely known for helping others in need.

I made my purchases and walked back outside. I walked up to this sweet old man and handed him a bag from the store. I said, "Merry Christmas to you," and started to walk away. He looked inside the bag and exclaimed, "Wait a minute! What is this, young lady?" (Young lady. Oh, he has endeared himself to my heart forever...) I said, "It's a scarf for you. You looked cold and I just thought you could use one to keep warm." He was visibly surprised and taken aback. I helped him tie it around his neck and then the idea came to me. I asked him what hot drink was his favorite. He loudly protested at first but then said he wouldn't mind hot chocolate. I went back into the store and brought out a cup of hot chocolate with a warm muffin. I gave him the drink and tucked the muffin into his apron pocket.

He couldn't keep the smile off his face. He kept saying, "Why are you doing this? Why would you be so nice to a stranger?" I told him, "For the same reason you're standing out in the freezing cold, ringing a bell." We talked for a bit and I then told him Jaymun's story. I told him how Jaymun's birth has affected our family, and how complete strangers have sent us cards and gifts and money, for no other reason than to extend simple human kindness. I told him I strongly believed that God rewards those who bless others. I said that having Jaymun has made me so much more aware of those who are hurting, that his cancer has heightened my resolve to look out for others in need.

It was then that he cried. It was so cold outside and I remember how his eyes shone from the tears and how red his face became from the moisture. He hugged me tight and said he would never forget our story. And I know he won't.

I was hesitant to tell others this incident, mainly because I'm afraid of painting myself out to be a Mother Theresa or a Pollyanna- ish type of person who skips around flinging flowers into the air. I'm not even close to being the type of person I wish to be. But for one brief moment, I think I made a difference to another human being. It's the message I wish to spread to those reading our story. Look for ways to make a difference in others' lives. It doesn't take much to bring a smile to someone else's face, mostly because people have stopped expecting to receive joy from others.

The past week, I have been blessed in the most unimagineable ways. Several strangers have sent me cards and a few have gone out of their way to provide our children with thoughtful gifts. They know who they are and I don't want to leave even one person's name out by accident. I just know that their kindness to me and my precious family leaves me at a loss for words. These strangers took a few minutes out of their day to make mine just a bit more bearable and I thank them for it.