Sarah's Scribbles

The Year of Months

A Christmas Story

Hello everyone! I'm going to ignore today's topic and tell y'all about something that happened a few years ago.

I had worked as a cashier at Winn Dixie in Jupiter/Tequesta one summer home from college. When I came back in town for Winter break, my old supervisor asked me to pick up a few hours while I was around. It was a couple days after Christmas and the line was pretty busy all day. People were, like they normally are just about any time they go to Winn Dixie apparently, in horrendous moods.

A guy grunted at me after I handed him change and told him to have a nice day. I glanced back at the long line of scowling faces before I turned to my next customer: a gray-haired eighty pound woman hunched over her shopping cart. She clutched the handle for support with one hand for while she slowly piled her groceries on the belt.

Milk. Bread. Cereal. Pasta. Canned vegetables. Chicken. Lunch meat. Eggs. Canned soup.

As I ran her items over the scanner, she pulled out a few crisp bills from her threadbare purse. She grasped them in her hand like a pirate grasping a treasure map. She smiled brightly, eyes shining.

"My son gave me money for Christmas, so I can buy groceries!" She fanned out the bills to reveal two twenties and a ten.

I returned her smile. I didn't know what to say. What did I get for Christmas? Toys, some clothes I probably didn't need, some candy I really didn't need. And here this woman was, thrilled to receive Christmas money so that she could feed herself.

I finished scanning the items and hit the total button. Pain stabbed through my heart. "Sixty-four dollars and eighty-three cents," I said.

"Oh." The smile vanished from her face. "I guess I will have to put some things back." She began to rifle through her essential groceries, looking for some food she would have to do without.

My heart broke for her. I wanted to help, but what could I do? I had no money on me. If I let her go for $50, my drawer would be drastically short. I seriously don't think my managers would have approved of it and I needed the job. My mind was racing, trying to find a solution that didn't involve this frail woman doing without bread or vegetables - or me getting fired.

Call it a Christmas miracle or a rare act of kindness, but the scowling face behind the old woman softened and transformed. The middle-aged woman stuck a manicured hand in her purse and slapped $15 down on the counter. "Here." That was all she said.

My throat tightened and I blinked back the tears forming in my eyes. The old woman pulled some soup and bread from a bag, not realizing what just happened. "Will this be enough?" she asked me.

I took the items from her and placed them back in the bag. "It looks like you have enough after all." I took the money off the counter and the woman turned to face her benefactor.

"Oh, thank you!" Her face beamed once more. I helped put the bagged groceries back into her cart and she shuffled off, certain of a full belly for at least a little while.

"Thank you," I said to the woman, meaning those words more than I had for a long time. She nodded, paid for her groceries and left.


So this Christmas, while you're enjoying your new video games, electronics and designer handbags, please try to remember those who are struggling just to find something to eat or clean water to drink. Also, on a related - but not really - note, please remember the men and women serving overseas this Christmas, separated from their family and friends.

3 comments:

As we were buying our overflowing cart of groceries on Christmas Eve and waiting for Grandpa to bring the warmed car to the door so we didn't have to walk so far in the cold to load them, an older lady with crooked teeth and gnarly hands came up to us and opened her hand revealing a handful of pennies. "Do you have any pennies? I'm so hungry," she said as we stood there. My reaction to the continual stream of panhandlers in the neighborhood is to nod and smile and say, "Sorry I don't have any change", which is both true (I don't carry change), and dismissing (I give generously to the homeless shelters - it eases my conscience). My 11 year old boy was with us, and reached in his pocket and pulled out some quarters and nickels. "Mom, should I give this too her?" "It's your money, if you'd like to go right ahead." So he did. The lady fingered the coins and almost cried. "I don't want to take the boy's piggy bank money!" The look of gratitude in her eyes was worth it. "Merry Christmas"

 

Darn it! You made me cry a little!

 

such a beautiful story! I want to cry. (In a good way).