Blogger: Mary Keeley
Lately, I’ve noted a common thread standing out in whatever I pick up to read and even in casual conversations. This thread usually isn’t the main theme in any of these but more like a consistent whisper in my ear. Those in our blog community frequently share love and encouragement with each other and clearly you appreciate those gestures. I know I’m now being nudged to make special efforts to spread it beyond our borders during the Christmas holidays.
Added to feeling the usual stresses of the season, we’re a weary people after a tough political year and world events. Showing a little love can go a long way to reflect the Source of the greatest love and peace at Christmastime.
This week’s blog posts offer us ideas. Weren’t you lifted by Janet Grant’s blog, reminding us to allow ourselves permission to relax? Pass it along to an author friend. And by Wendy Lawton’s post suggesting we show love through secret giving? Who in your world could use this most? And Rachelle Gardner’s blog rallying you to believe in your goal of publication, or continued publication? Do you have an author friend who could really use this inspiration right now? You will also appreciate Rachel Kent’s post tomorrow about balancing work and family over the holidays. Don’t miss it. These resemble the kinds of love we can share with our families, friends, and strangers, too.
Here’s one simple suggestion to hopefully launch a list of ideas from all of you. A warm smile and Merry Christmas greeting could feel like a gift to the worn out sales clerks we encounter. Imagine dealing all day and/or night with cranky customers, tired and frustrated by the crowds of shoppers and unsuccessful gift searches. Not your dream job? Mine either, and I suspect it isn’t theirs at this time of year. A warm smile and jovial conversation could be the breath of fresh air that refreshes them until their shift ends.
I’ve been doing this since Black Friday, and to my surprise a checkout person in Walmart preempted me with the “Merry Christmas” greeting. A brave move in this ridiculously politically correct culture when many employers forbid it. I thanked her and wished her a blessed Christmas. We had a 5-second conversation while she worked at the register and agreed that Christmas is what this holiday is all about. I hope I warmed her heart as much as she did mine.
Now it’s your turn. What might God be nudging you to do to share his love during this holy season? What unexpected act of love have you experienced this year or in the past that has meant a lot to you?
I see a line at the checkout counter as an opportunity to share some encouraging words. I’m inspired by a jolly lady in the Thanksgiving line with me at the grocery store years ago.
*Money was tight, and I was feeling sorry for myself–I had to pass up on our traditional pickles and the makings for a second dessert. The dear woman ahead of me bubbled over with excitement. Her adult children were all coming, and she was so proud. I asked about her menu. She told me, without a hint of regret, that her budget didn’t include a turkey. “My kids always say,” she laughed, “that it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without my macaroni and cheese.”
*If there’s a bird in my shopping basket, I am blessed. Pass it on.
I’m with you, Shirlee. The older we get in our house, the more we appreciate the simpler blessings. Maybe that’s why a warm smile, an encouraging word, or a sincere affirmation seems to mean so much to recipients in our world today.
I’m a frequent smiler, so much that people consider me facile or childish. Favorite moments are smiling at a bank worker or salesclerk and getting it in kind.
Michael, you’re making your world a sunnier place.
Great post, Mary, and I am all for being politically incorrect. It seems that those who demand ‘tolerance from Christians!’ are precisely those who refuse to extend tolerance TO Christians.
* Since I don’t get out any more and would be fairly inarticulate if I did, my options for sharing love are limited. They do, however, exist –
1) Obviously, through this community; writing is one of the loneliest and potentially most discouraging of professional roads, and we can all pull one another along.
2) I try to make Barbara’s mornings go as smoothly as possible as she leaves for work (she is NOT a morning person). All I can really do is make sure the car is started early enough to warm the interior, and get her breakfast and lunch as she’s requested the previous night (no preparation, just pre-packaged). When she comes home I take the time to listen to how her day went, and attend to the dogs so she can watch television in relative peace. Small things, but I hope they make her day a bit brighter, and that she can thereby pass on my love and care to the wider world.
3) At the beginning of summer, a neighbour was sitting on my doorstep with a dying dog in his arms, and he was weeping. He had found her by his house, curled up in the weeds. He didn’t know what to do, so he brought her to me; he figured a vet would have simply euthanized her, and he saw something in her sad, sad eyes that could not admit the thought of her passing. Today, with the application of love and care and simple natural remedies, that dog is now Strawberry The Baby Bullmastiff, Queen Of The Living Room and Friend To All, with an absurdly high singing voice and a propensity for inadvertently knocking things – and people – over. The love I shared, at so little cost and to my great benefit, gave hope and some inspiration to my neighbour, and I think that The Song Of Strawberry’s Joy radiates out into the heavens, and indeed becomes a small and pure note in the singing of the angels, as they can’t help but smile when they hear her.
* As a suggestion – show the care that bespeaks love. Let others go ahead of you, pick up the items that are carelessly dropped in stores (especially this season) and put them back, anonymously pay for the meal of the police officer in line behind you at McDonalds. You don’t need to be recognized for your love, for your actions here will echo in eternity (to steal the best line from Russel Crowe’s “Gladiator”).
Andrew, speaking as another working woman, I can tell you that those loving kindnesses mean the world to Barbara. A lovely way to begin her day.
With my cracked pelvis, I’m not getting out much, so many things I’d normally do are off the table this year. But there are online ways to share the love.
*My husband and I have reached the point in life where we really don’t need anything for Christmas, and it’s even hard to figure out something we “want” that’s worth getting (except books, but I buy those for myself all year). We found an easy solution to the “What do you want for Christmas” question. Compassion, World Vision, and Samaritan’s Purse all have catalogs online filled with choices of things that are needed in the countries they serve. This year we each got the other some goats.
*Now I can truthfully say that my husband really gets my goat at Christmastime.
Carol, those ministries you mentioned do awesome work. The adults in our family have gifted each other in these ways too, although we can’t use your funny line about getting each other’s goat. 🙂 It sets a worthy example for the younger members of the family too.
I hope your pelvis heals well…and quickly.
Praying for your healing, Carol.
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
My two best friends RCP and MLI, are getting a rooster and some chickens, and a pig. In that order.
And since I’m pretty sure neither of them read this blog, I can say that out loud.
Praying your body heals quickly!
Norman Vincent peale suggested ‘shooting’ prayers at people who looked harried or sad. I’ve found that it does work; people I prayed for, in, say, an adjacent Wal-Mart checkout line, would suddenly straighten up, glance at me, and smile.
I know God is asking me to gather my family together, play games more, pray together more, love, give.
He must have a special purpose and blessing in store for your family, Shelli. I hope you all have a warm and wonderful Christmas together.
For the last 5 years or so, I’ve made fudge for all of our neighbors. It started when we lived on a little dirt road in rural Ireland that only had 8 houses or so, as a way to connect with the neighbors. Then we took it to our apartment building in Vienna that had 15 families or so. Now, we’re back in the good ole’ USofA and I’ve decided the 2 neighbors on all four sides of us will get fudge – I’d be in a bit over my head to get to the whole block! LOL
Something new for me this year is to leave a goodie bag of fudge and a thank you note for our rubbish guys and the mail carrier. And then, of course, we try to give some kind of gift to our kids’ teachers. I love to do what I can to thank and encourage all the teachers and staff at school, but as our economic situation has changed, I’m having to be a bit more creative in that area.
Jennifer, you’ve touched a lot of hearts all over the world with your kindness. I didn’t think I’d have time, but you’ve inspired me to bake extra cookies for my neighbors this year.
I love it!! And the reason I do the fudge? It’s SUPER quick and easy (I do it in the microwave but it tastes like I spent hours over the stove! LOL). And to our European friends, it was a way to endear them to us because they’ve never had fudge like we do here. One neighbor in Vienna said in German, “They’re like little pillows of heaven.” haha!
It easy and inexpensive to add a bite size chocolate treat such as a Ghiradelli chocolate to my items. After the clerk has scanned it, I pass it back and say, “This is for you. It’s a known fact that chocolate creates a force-field that will block negatives vibes from Grinches disguised as customers.” Yes. I will make a fool of myself if it helps someone have a better day.
Shelia, that’s a brilliant idea! And I can visualize your warm, beautiful smile as you hand it back to the clerk.
Time is always my problem, but this kind act doesn’t take any extra time.
I worked as a cashier/sales clerk for about 25 years. I guarantee you the combination of chocolate, humor and the understanding you show will help someone have a better day. Bless you!
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
Okay, I do NOT want to sound like “Ohhh, yes, I AM Martha Stewart, and Mary, and Martha, and and (pick a woman from the Bible who was a pillar and a saint), but a couple of years ago, I cleaned my son J’s room. Now, before you all roll your eyes, he was about 16 at the time and the room was what I’d call a black hole. He played varsity hockey and got straight A’s and went to church and youth and he was going to clean it on his Christmas vacation…so, one day, right before Christmas holidays, while he was at school, I spent the entire day cleaning his room. I mean, CLEANING. Ugh, it was nasty.
This is the kid who I have to extract information from, and who’s usually only chatty when he wants something. It has been hard, to say the least, because he used to talk non-stop to me. Now he’s on a “need to know” degree of communication with me. It drive me nuts, and it hurts a great deal, because I doubt he understands what he’s doing.
He’s written 5 university exams in the last 2 weeks, and he has his last one tomorrow. He’s been up late every night, studying either here, or the library. He’s so tired, he’s loopy. Then, after the exam, he’s going to work at a camp all weekend for high risk boys. He leaves mid-afternoon and will be home late on Sunday.
John and our youngest head to PEI on Saturday morning, so I’ll be alone all weekend.
What am I going to do?
And clean J’s room.
Why? Because it’s the one thing I can do for him that would actually make him speechless. My husband and I both know that J is pushing himself extremely hard. We also have a policy that if the kids are studying for exams, they don’t do any chores. There’s plenty of other hands to unload the dishwasher or shovel snow.
So, yes, the room cleaning may not seem like much, but it is. And it means a lot to me to do it for him. And yes, for him, it’s “Yes, Mom did it so I don’t have to!!”
For me, it’s saying “there will come a day when you get this, when you finally figure out what this is about, and it’s not about cleaning your room.”
I used to work as a cashier/sales clerk. Thank you for suggesting “the warm smile and Christmas greeting”. It does mean a lot. I would add the gift of patience and understanding, also. Particularly this time of year that means a lot, too. When an item doesn’t ring up right, or one of the machines quit working and the line gets long, customers tend to take it out on the cashier. When I worked, it meant the world to me if the next person in line extended patience, grace and understanding to me. It was truly refreshing, and gave me that slight break I needed to keep going.