Someone - who I don't know - has become the Christmas angel to our family today and will be the heroine of our family history stories.
For Christmas every year I try to make something extra special for dinner and this year I was determined to have a big fruit salad. It being Christmas time, fruit is through the roof in price and I had made out very specific list of only the items we NEEDED for the next three days of festivities.
There were some basics we needed but mostly it was all fun food we don't normally buy (soda, water chestnuts for a family appetizer, bacon for breakfast...). The boys were being great helping me find things and not asking for all the other things that looked good (to boys, nearly all food looks good) and so I had let them each get a donut. They were thrilled, donuts are a big deal.
Making sure I had everything on my list and being thankful I found it all and kept to the list, I went to check out. Amazingly, there was no one even to wait behind and we unloaded the full cart.
I watched the total add and add. This was going to be expensive.
A lady came up behind me and got a divider out to begin putting up her few groceries. I made little small talk with the cashier (Yes, these are all my boys. No, one more isn't with us (he was on a special Christmas run with his Daddy). Yes, all boys.). I told her this was our last stop and we were headed home to enjoy Christmas.
The woman next to me in line seemed to be standing exceptionally close to me. There was no one behind her but she seemed to be really close to us, just the same. Not annoyingly, just enough to notice.
The bill was over 200 dollars.
I dug out the cash I had set aside for the groceries, wondering what I had to add to the 2 one hundred dollar bills I had in my hand when the woman next to me suddenly grabbed me in a hug.
Think about that.
A stranger just hugged me.
And then she began to whisper in my ear.
"Please don't make a scene but please put your cash away
and let me pay for your groceries.
I went to pay a layaway off and it was already taken care of so I want to do this for you.
You just take the groceries home and have a wonderful Christmas with your boys
and Pay It Forward yourself."
She scooted in front of me and swiped her card.
I think the cashier's jaw dropped.
I hugged her again and thanked her.
I hugged her another time as I cried.
"Please," she whispered, "don't make a scene."
So I nodded and said, "Thank you."
The cashier handed me the receipt. Her voice was halted as she brokenly said, "Have a Merry Christmas."
I hugged the lady again, thanked her and she told me "Merry Christmas."
S2 wanted to know why I was crying and hugging a stranger.
I got in the suburban and posted it on facebook from my phone. Late tonight I seen the 50 some comments.
Later today, as I was still tearing up over the incident, I found the receipt. It was for $210 and some change. At first I had posted it was $225, guessing what the total had been because, honestly, that moment was a bit of a blur.
At various times today, as the boys and I made and frosted Christmas cookies, they would say, "That was sooooo nice of that lady. You really didn't know her, Moma?"
I really did not. I really do not think I could pick her out of a line up.
As we bowed our heads to pray for dinner of hotdogs and fried potatoes...bought for us by a stranger...Jake asked a special blessing upon this woman.
We talked again what a gift she had given us.
I don't even begin to know how to Pay if Forward.
We did nothing. I went to the store for groceries. I stood in line. And someone just bestowed upon us a gift.
Not much unlike the reason we celebrate Christmas.
Christ came to earth to save us. He gives us a gift, offered it to us to take - that gift of Eternal Life, the gift of a Savior - all we have to do is accept.
And be forever changed and blown away by the gift of it.
New International Version (NIV)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Merry Christmas everyone!!!!
Please, find a way to Pay It Forward.
Not just at Christmas but any day.
I can tell you, the gift of it is amazing.