I’ve been working in a local bookstore for some supplementary income, lately. It’s Christmastime, and shoppers are searching for that special gift for their loved ones who enjoy a good read.
Add freezing temperatures and snow that periodically continues to fall before its ancestral flakes that have come before have had the chance to melt away for good to the usual Christmas shopping craziness, and you’ve almost got yourself a good ol fashioned Christmas panic!
Most of the people I see coming into the store have very serious looks on their faces. They need something, some not sure what it is when they first come in, and this weather, coupled with this time of year, raises the bar on the Stress-O-Meter to almost unbearable heights.
Everyone feels it. The air is thick with it–tension, stress, weariness.
But all of this heaviness in the air can be lifted as easily as the lightest of Christmas turkey feathers by the simplest thing in the world. The simplest and most glorious gift that we each have to give, and one that can be given over and over without ever running out.
I didn’t come to this realization on my own, I can assure you; it took a little girl to remind me. She couldn’t have been more than 8 years old, and came into the store with her mother to shop for a gift to give her friend. When they found just the right book, they brought it up to the counter for me to ring up. She was so excited, the girl, smiling from ear to ear in anticipation of giving this amazing gift to her pal.
Then, as if things could get any better than that, her mother asked me if I could gift wrap the book. I said, “Of course! We have three types of paper to choose from. Which of these would you prefer?”
I pointed to the three choices, and the little girl came closer to the counter for a better look.
“Ohhh! The snowflake one will be perfect!” she said.
“Snowflakes it is, then, ” said I.
I took my time, wrapping carefully. When I finished, I held it up to see if it would do.
“Oh, Mommy! Molly is just going to love this!”
Her mother looked at me and smiled a smile of her own. “Thank you, so much. Have a wonderful Christmas!” she said, as they headed out into the snowy day.
“It was my pleasure,” I answered. And it was.
As I watched them through the window, they crossed the street and disappeared into the afternoon. I caught a glimpse of myself in the window’s reflection and realized that I, too, was now smiling.
Outside the snow began to come down with a greater determination, promising a treacherous drive home, but for that moment, everything was just as it should be.