Each year, the time presses us into a frenzy, the demands of balancing work and all the things that need to be done to shop for others, to get Christmas cards out and to prepare for gathering of family and friends. This year was especially rushed, and I don’t know why really. It’s not like I have had no warning, like I didn’t have 11 months to prepare for Christmas. Procrastination fills every moment and there are always excuses for me not to shop. Shopping to me is a curse that rears it’s head at the most inopportune times. This year was no different. Giving is a wonderful thing, which I enjoy, but it’s the task of the purchase and the thought of what to give that gets me all sidetracked. Perhaps if I would think about it ahead of time, it would not be so overwhelming.
This year, during one of my moments of procrastination, I pulled into Whataburger on Thomasville Road, a familiar and beloved place in Tallahassee, not realizing this time something worth pause was about to happen. I stopped for two reasons really, first, I was starved, secondly, I wanted to get my girls, who since they were old enough to eat real food, developed a passion for Whataburger. My dad, the hamburger connoisseur swears that a Whataburger is the best hamburger in town, and believe me, he’d rather eat there than anywhere else on earth. As I ordered and paid for gift certificates, I was helped by the sweetest, most courteous counter clerk ever. I noticed her striking face the last few times I ate at Whatagurger. She has a humble spirit and a shy smile. When I made my purchase, it came over me, the Christmas spirit, the true spirit of giving. I found myself wanting to do something spur of the moment, something slightly meaningful for just her. I wondered about this hard working young woman, probably my daughter’s age, and if she would have a memorable Christmas. I found myself digging through my wallet filled with receipts form the week’s purchases and I found it, the last $20 bill I had at the time. I asked for her hand, and I placed it in her hand and closed it tightly and said, “I know it’s not much, but I will be back. I want you to spend this on you,..just you. Please do that for me, Merry Christmas.” It was as if the room went dark and a light came over her. She replied shyly, “thank you, this is the first Christmas present I have gotten.” I have a feeling it may be one of the few that she may be getting. It made me smile, and I vowed right then and there,..to go back to check on her, to get to know her, to make sure that the next $20 I slip her will be for something again, just for her.
I hope you and your families have a terrific Christmas. I hope that we all renew our spirits, looking around thankfully for all that we have and reaching out to those who are deserving and in need and that we give, not just at Christmas, but every day. Merry Christmas Everyone! Pay It Forward!