The First Christmas Message

Greetings friends! This evening, I’d like to share with you for a few minutes on the subject of holiday generosity. Since another year is beginning to draw to a close, I feel that it is an appropriate time to begin exploring the subject. Draw close, and visit with me for a bit.

Yesterday afternoon after my family and I enjoyed a nice respite from a couple of overly busy weeks, my husband and I spent most of a beautiful, early fall MN afternoon taking care of our grocery shopping for the next couple of weeks. Since grocery shopping for our family always means a trek to a completely different suburb, as my husband was driving I took my phone out and logged into Facebook – to catch up with what was going on in the world around me. After spending a few minutes scrolling through many less relevant posts, I came across a post – which someone who I have neither ever heard of before, or met – had posted to Target stores – and one of my closest friends had “liked”. It was the first of what will soon – I pray – become an array of posts – sharing the Christmas Message. The woman who narrated the message obviously works for Target corporation – as she shared the story as a first-person narrative.
As my luck has it, I seem to have lost the post – and I cannot remember the woman’s name who narrated the moving story. You’ve all heard it before, though – it was a touching and inspiring story of a kind-hearted stranger’s shining love and generosity towards someone less blessed than herself. It seemed that the woman who narrated the story – had been working at one of many Target stores across this country, and was in the process of ringing up a couple who had come in to do their weekly grocery shopping, who had two young children – and it was apparently quite obvious that the woman was expecting a third child, within the near future. The couple had filled their shopping cart with the barest necessities of maintaining their own existence, and raising two young children besides. When they finally approached one of the checkout registers, the man took out his bank debit card and handed it to the clerk for payment. On this particular evening, however – his luck turned and his debit card was declined. Not having enough cash with him to cover the total amount of their tab – the man pushed their shopping cart back into the store, out of the checkout aisle – and went off to make some phone calls in an attempt to find some method of covering the family’s purchases. While he was doing so, the individual who had been in line in front of the family – who only happened to have had a few items – and had already checked out, but had not left the store yet – having witnessed the couple behind theirs’ dilemna – waited patiently until the gentleman who had been checking out was well out of hearing range, and went back to the clerk and told her that she wished to pay for the family behind hers’ total purchases. The clerk – somewhat abashed – told her that the total was quite a bit. To which the lady who had been in front of them kindly responded that she had been saving some money, and really wanted to cover their tab. As the gentleman (and his wife) returned to the clerk with their cart full of merchandise, he was stunned when the clerk explained to him that even in society today, there are still people out there who care about their neighbors – and that his purchases had already been covered, in full! The narrative then continued. The gentleman of the family – having had some cash with him when the family entered the store – gave the clerk the $20 bill that he had in his wallet, and instructed her that he didn’t feel right accepting the complete generosity of the stranger who had been ahead of him – and that the clerk was to use his $20 to pay for the purse, which was the only item that a young lady in line behind him was waiting to purchase.
The narrative continued to explain that – several customers who were in line behind the initial family who had not had enough money to pay for their purchases – themselves, having witnessed the kindness and generosity shown to the family in need – continued to pay for the purchases of the customers behind them for about four more customers. As my husband and I spent time into the rest of the afternoon doing our grocery shopping, I was overcome by the emotion brought on by my friend’s “forwarding” of this account. It caused me to consider how quickly this Christmas season is drawing near and I couldn’t help but start thinking . . . . what am I going to do this year to be the face and the heart of God to those less fortunate than me? I implore you, friends – even for those of us who don’t make a lot of money at our jobs – but who live comfortably . . . . even if it’s as simple as buying strangers a couple of cups of coffee each week for the next several, or putting more money than you usually do into your church’s benevolent offering the next couple of times that they take one – to help families where only one spouse is working, or purchasing groceries for a couple who have more than one young child – and could really use some assistance with necessities this season . . . . what are you going to do to share love, and kindness with others around you this holiday season?
Blessings, my friends – and thank you for taking time to visit with me again. Your friendship really warms my heart

On The Power of Affirmation and Generosity

Good evening, friends!  This shall be a shorter blog than usual.  This evening, I just feel compelled to share a bit about the power of affirmation and gifts in people’s lives.  This is common knowledge for most of us – but it never hurts to reiterate it again, every so often.  Earlier this evening, I had an experience that is probably going to se…

em fairly benign, to most of you.  But it moved me to start reflecting – once again – on the incredible power of affirmation in people’s lives!  I had logged on to Facebook – as I generally do on evenings that our family doesn’t have any activities, for a couple of hours.  Any of you that know me well, know that usually after logging on – I do spend about an hour playing FarmVille.  But this evening, I wasn’t logging on with the intention of playing, at all.  Just to monitor how many of my friends (and family in WA State) were online, and who is doing what – and thinking about what – this evening.  Not long after I logged on, an “Instant Message” window popped open, and I had greetings from an old, Senior High classmate of mine – who’s blogs I’ve been following for about four months now.  We didn’t wind up conversing for very long, but he opened the conversation by saying “You’re awesome!”  I asked him why (as I didn’t recall having done anything particularly deserving of that strong of a sentiment) – and he responded with, “You just are!”  Now – it’s not that I have a low self-image to begin with, but . . . . generally speaking, on a daily basis this is not the kind of sentiment that I receive from most people that I work – or associate – with!!  In the midst of a long week in the office, however – and some minor trials at home with my teenage children – it was amazing how just that – single, positive comment is still resounding within me, and has made my evening!  It also made me reflect on a time – back almost a year ago, now – prior to Christmas of 2011 – when I had gone into a Caribou (MN chain coffee shop) before work one morning – to get a cup of coffee.  The early morning line had progressed to the point where I only had one person in front of me.  When it came to be the customer in front of me’s turn to make her order, she stepped up to the counter and ordered her cup of coffee – and then told the barista who was waiting on her to put whatever I wished on her “tab”, as well.  I’d never been so surprised in my life!!  It’s not that people in MN aren’t – generally – generous, but believe me friends – even here, that is not a regular morning occurrence at Caribou!  But that generous gesture made the rest of my week, that week!  It wasn’t like I didn’t have enough cash – right “in hand” that morning – to pay for my coffee, but the generosity of the gesture made me feel so good that for the rest of my week, I found myself reflecting on the thought that perhaps I should start doing that for others – as often as possible! For many of us who work in fast-paced, demanding, emotionally draining jobs/offices – it is really amazing how far positive, affirming statements to others – and public “edification” – can go!  I’ve also found that occasional acts of generosity can go a long way towards making others feel that they’re important!  In several chapters of the Bible, God calls us to love and affirm others – and to share with our neighbors out of all our riches.  I believe that not only in the season of Advent, but all year long we need to bear these sentiments in mind as we go about our daily lives.  Affirmation and generosity really do impact others – and they’re both so easy to grace others with. These are my reflections for this evening.  Blessings to all of you and your families – and as always, I anticipate your feedback friends!   : )