It was only four days before Christmas. The spirit of the season had not yet caught up with me, even though cars packed the parking lot of our local discount store. Inside the store was worse. Shopping carts and last-minute shoppers jammed the aisles.
Buying for someone who had everything and deploring the high cost of items, I considered gift buying anything but fun.
Hurriedly, I filled my shopping cart with last-minute items and proceeded to the long checkout lines. I picked the shortest, but it looked as if it would mean at least a 20 minutes wait.
In front of me were two small children - a boy of about five and a slightly younger girl. She carried a beautiful pair of shiny, gold house-slippers. As the Christmas music sounded in the store's stereo system, the small girl hummed along, off-key, but happily.
When we finally approached the checkout register, the girl carefully placed the shoes on the counter. She treated them as though they were a treasure.
The clerk rang up the bill. "That will be $6.09," she said.
The boy laid his crumpled bills atop the stand while he searched his pockets. He finally came up with $3.12. "I guess we'll have to put them back," he bravely announced. "We'll come back some other time, maybe tomorrow."
With that statement, a soft sob broke from the little girl. "But Jesus would have loved those shoes." she cried.
"Well, we'll go home and work some more. Don't cry, we'll come back." he assured her.
Quickly I handed $3.00 to the clerk. These children waited in line for a long time. And after all, it was Christmas.
Suddenly a pair of arms came around me and a small voice said, "Thank you lady."
"What did you mean when you said Jesus would like the shoes?" I asked.
The boy answered, "Our mommy is sick and going to heaven. Daddy said she might go before Christmas to be with Jesus."
The girl spoke, "My sunday school teacher said the streets up in heaven are shiny gold, just like these slippers. Won't my mommy be beautiful walking on those streets to match these shoes?"
My eyes flooded as I looked into her tear-streaked face. "Yes," I answered, "I'm sure she will."
Silently I thanked God for using these children to remind me of the true spirit of giving.
Somehow, not only for Christmas
But all the long year through
The joy that you give to others
Is the joy that comes back to you
- Helga Schmidt -