As promised, I am sharing a favorite holiday memory. It has no bells, whistles, festive paper, or stunning coordinating bow. Nevertheless, it is a gift, that my husband, Paul, bestows in a two-fold manner on a regular basis. First, to his less-fortunate-than-himself fellow man, and secondly, by way of quiet-yet-consistent example; for the benefit of those around him.
photo courtesy of Amanda Waltman
It was early evening, Christmas Eve. We had two or three final things to pick up at the grocery store on the way home from an afternoon filled with errands. Upon arriving at the checkout, a man slipped in front of us to make his purchase. He was tattered and dirty; carrying a back pack that had obviously been discarded by someone in lieu of one less worn. One of the net side pockets revealed a container of alcohol; airplane sized. I quickly surveyed his intended purchase, stacked haphazardly on the conveyor belt: five packages of Top Ramen. His clothes hadn’t seen a washing machine in some time, and weren’t exactly sufficient to provide the warmth and protection that would be needed through the approaching cold and clear night. His face bore the tell-tale signs of despair, fatigue, and hopelessness; and was lined well beyond his years with the circumstances of his life. The checker, who was tired and quite possibly in need of getting home to a long night of wrapping and preparation for her Christmas celebration; looked mildly irritated as the man began pulling pennies, nickels and a couple of dimes from his tattered pockets in order to pay. With worn and dirty hands he began stacking pennies into groups of five, shuffling intermittently through his belongings in hopes of finding more.
Without missing a beat, Paul stepped up cheerfully alongside, making immediate eye contact and quickly removing his wallet from his pocket, inquired, ” How about allowing me to help you out?” Immediately the man looked down and quietly said, “Thank you. It really isn’t necessary, but again thank you.” The checker was waiting, not overly patiently, as the amount was still insufficient according to her register. “Put your money away. I’ve got this. Merry Christmas!” Teary eyed, the man took his purchase with one more thank you and exited the store.
There is a tremendous line in the movie Le Miserables that is quite powerful. It says, ” To love another is to see the face of God.”
Today, and every day, regardless of the time of year, I consider myself to be so very fortunate to be married to an individual who sees his face regularly.
Paul gives freely without judgment, question or qualification. Often, people wonder when they see him quietly blessing others in this way, what’s “in it for him?”
I personally think the dividends in which he is paid, afford him superb vision; while inviting others to partake of that vision with him.
On the eve of a new and potential-filled year, it is the best gift and reminder ever.