I rounded the corner of the produce aisle, almost done with my hectic Christmas food shopping trip when I felt my mother. She was pointing me toward a display of whole pineapples and urging me to bring one to the family gathering on Christmas Day. I have learned to listen to that still, inner voice, whether it be mine, or my mother’s, or that of the Holy Spirit. It never steers me wrong, and I have ignored it at my peril in the past, so into my cart went the pineapple, though I have no idea how to properly cut it up. That, I will leave to my sisters.
In some way, my mother accompanied me through the rest of that shopping trip. When I passed the beverage aisle, which was empty save one lone worker stocking the orange soda, my mother whispered to me to wish him a Merry Christmas. Now, that was obviously a ridiculous idea. I didn’t know him, and he didn’t know me, but as I said, I ignore that voice at my own peril. So, I asked him for a bottle of that orange soda, looked into his eyes, and wished him a Merry Christmas. And it was as though I was looking at the Winter Warlock receiving a choo-choo train for the first time, and he melted before my very eyes. Here was someone who may not have received a gift or a greeting in a long while, and he returned my good wishes with a huge smile, lit from within.
Shopping now complete, I went to the register, but my mother was not done yet. I felt her urging me on to get a grocery gift card and to give it away. How my mother loved giving things away! I obediently did as I was told, and gave the card to the cashier to give to someone she found in line who might need it. And I left the store crying. Because here, two years after my mother died, I was able to give her a Christmas present and feel her receive it with love.
My next stop was picking up lunch for the family. To my surprise, the store’s owner slid the sandwiches across the counter and would not take my money. She wished me a Merry Christmas with the same look in her eyes as the man I had just left in the grocery store, all light and goodness and peace. It was God looking back at me.
And I remembered, and I knew it to be true. When you give, you receive. It’s something I want my children to know in their bones as they grow older and leave here, because it’s a truth that will change their lives, and the lives of those around them. It’s an awesome legacy that my mother gave me, and continues to give, and I am so grateful.
Merry Christmas, one and all….may God’s peace and love and joy remain with you and your families today and every day.