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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Newspaper Column for December 2009

Kettle Encounter

On a wild night with gusting winds and driving rain my husband and I ventured out to a restaurant in Kinston for a special meal to celebrate our anniversary. Only the specialness of the occasion persuaded us to leave the cozy dryness of our home. But, determined not to let the weather change our plans, out we went. After a wonderful meal, we were ready to leave when I thought of a few things I needed to pick up. By the time the waitress dropped off the check I had a note pad out and was busy writing a quick shopping list. Somewhere else to go in this wild weather. My husband never complained once. Honestly. At least not out loud.

Braving the lashing rain again, we dashed down the street to Wal-Mart, the closest store. My husband, gallant soul that he is, drove the car right up to the door so I could jump out quickly and stay as dry as possible. I scrambled out none too gracefully, but did manage to stay relatively dry.

Under the slight shelter offered by an awning over the front door, I paused, adjusted my pocketbook strap, straightened my jacket and headed for the entrance. As I walked toward the door, something bright red to my right caught my eye. A Salvation Army kettle. No doubt left there from earlier in the day when a volunteer had stood by it. My eyes traveled a little farther and, to my disbelief, tucked back in the corner, behind the kettle, sat a lady. I couldn’t believe anyone would be out here in this weather. She was an older black lady, petite and pretty, with a cap of loose gray curls. Wrapped up to her chin in a dark heavy coat she was scrunched against the wall to stay out of the rain. Our eyes made contact. She smiled at me. Not a perfunctory I’m-out-here-because-I’m-doing-my-duty-but-I’d-rather-be-somewhere-else smile, but a beautiful warm smile that lit up her face and crinkled her eyes. I couldn’t help but smile back. I was amazed at such dedication and cheerfulness on a night like this. We talked for a minute then I reached into my wallet, chagrined to find that I had only one dollar left. I’d used what little cash I carry for odds and ends (my intended purchases would be debited from my checking account). Hoping it didn’t sound like a lame excuse, I told her that I was “down to my last dollar” as far as cash. One dollar - it seemed such a paltry amount to give to someone who was giving so much.

“That’s alright honey, every bit helps,” she said.

I stuffed the single dollar into the top of the kettle, still wishing I had more to give.

I was rewarded with another glowing smile.

“God bless you real good, honey”, she said.

“And you too,” I replied.

I liked the idea of being blessed "real good" - and felt like I had already received such a blessing.

As I walked into the dry warmth of the store, it occurred to me that this lady's sweet spirit and unselfish giving, especially on such an inclement night, had demonstrated to me the real spirit of Christmas as much as any seasonal celebration I might attend.

After all, the true spirit of Christmas is about giving, not of packages, but of oneself.

This Christmas, amid the joy of family, friends, food and gifts, may we find a quiet time to reflect upon the unselfish giving of the Most Precious Gift of all.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Merry Christmas!

I'll "see" you after Christmas when the hustle and bustle has quieted down. I wish you and yours a warm and wonderful holiday season!

~ Teresa

18 comments:

Karen said...

Thank you for this wonderful post. Have a wonderful and blessed Christmas, Teresa!

Michelle said...

Loved your story Teresa. I can just feel the warmth and spirit of the woman's kind words! Merry Christmas and blessings to you!

Beaz said...

Nice story and reflections. Contratulations on your beautiful art and kind feelings.
Tks for visiting me. Have a nice tima at Xmas and be back asap.
Beaz

Teresa Mallen said...

Wonderful post. Merry Christmas Teresa! May you and your family be blessed with much love and laughter this holiday season. See you in 2010 - Happy New Year.

Rosie said...

What a wonderful story, Teresa. The true spirit of Christmas indeed. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year:)

Lin said...

wonderful words, Teresa!! I hope you and your family have a most blessed Christmas and joyous New Years!

Cathyann said...

Warmth exudes from this story...your dear husband's chivalry and the grace from the Salvation Army volunteer. And of course, your recognition, attention and sharing(giving) the warmth to us.
Merry Christmas, Teresa

knittingdragonflies said...

Thanks for sharing your story, and have a very Merrry Christmas!
Vicki

jeannette stgermain said...

Genuine sacrifice never goes unnoticed:) Hope you had the chance to reflect, on Christmas day!

Jan said...

How wonderful that you recognized the giving spirit of that dear lady and that you shared it all with us!

I hope your Christmas was the best and that 2010 will be a year of health, prosperity and many blessings for you and yours!

Victor Errington said...

Wonderful story Teresa. Thank you and God bless you.
Vic.

Gary Keimig said...

Well said Teresa. I too say God bless you. There are far too few people who will give of themselves such as this lady. And the true meaning of the season was certainly shown in your experience. Thanks for writing about it.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Gary Keimig said...

That is a wonderful Christmas story. Just perfect for the season.
God bless and HAPPY NEW YEAR

Jo Castillo said...

Teresa, I don't know how I missed this. It is wonderful. Hope your holidays were wonderful. See you soon, I hope.

Christie Cottage said...

What a blessing to read! You have passed on the blessing you received!

acornmoon said...

Happy New Year Teresa, I enjoyed reading your heartwarming piece of writing.

Ramona Davidson said...

I have been looking through your art blog and you have such a wonderful talent and touch in your pictures. I enjoyed your site.

Lynne said...

Hi Teresa,
Hope you're doing okay and that the new year is good to you.

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