I didn’t know what to expect. Without the typical hubbub of activities: parties, concerts, shopping, I didn’t know if it would feel much like Christmas. Just after Thanksgiving I went to the Dollar Tree to pick up some special order supplies for the church Christmas decorations. Although I had an email confirmation that the shipment had arrived, the exhausted clerk shook her head at me and explained, “It’s not yet off the truck so you will need to come back tomorrow.” When I returned the next night, they asked me to stand in a long line to pay even though the order was prepaid. As I waited in a line of masked shoppers, I silently fumed, wondering if I should have just paid the $200 delivery fee instead of spending so much time trying to retrieve this order. But eventually they showed me a pallet of boxes that was mine to load. Forty-two boxes piled 7 feet high on a wobbly narrow cart with rusty wheels.

A 12- year-old boy in line next to me said “Ma’am, may I help you with that?”

“No” I insisted, “I got this”

But when the cart stuck on the door jamb I peered at him over my mask and he leapt in to hold the door and helped me get safely to the parking lot with my fragile goodies. Then I began to unload, wondering if it would all fit in the car or I would make yet a third run to Dollar Tree to launch December. Out of nowhere appeared an older lady who started lifting boxes and stacking them in my mini-SUV. A car load of kids in a van rolled down the window and said “Do you need help?” and before I could refuse the offer my anonymous helper shouted, “She sure does.”

The children worked quickly in the cold and marveled about what one person could possibly need with so much stuff. The children’s eyes lit up when I explained these were to decorate the church. They seemed to work as if they had purpose and conviction. When we finished the loading every inch of the cargo bay, the back seat and the passenger’s front seat they bustled off to Mom in the waiting van and I waved a hearty “Thanks so much” to the Mother and her delightful children.

As I drove away I realized my heart was already full of the spirit of Christmas. My surliness was pierced by the kindness of strangers. I decided that December might work out after all. We just need to open our eyes to the ways that God can rise up and surprise us with love in human form. And seek ways we can be that loving kindness to others.

Grace and Peace,

Carla Aday