Last night my daughters and I were doing some last minute shopping and had to drop by Walmart to pick up a gift that my parent’s sent us. I hardly ever go to Walmart, but this time I’m glad I did!
We were checking out at the service desk, and I began to chat with the cashier. I asked her how her christmas season was going. She replied, “TERRIBLE!” She talked about how mean customers have been to her. She talked about people yelling at her and her having to work really long hours. She also confessed that she hadn’t done any of her own Christmas shopping. She’s so tired, that all she wants to do is sleep when she’s not working.
She said she loves Christmas, but HATES working during Christmas. (I’m sure she’s not alone in her sentiments.) Another woman, who was a postal worker, confirmed her thoughts. It’s NO FUN working during Christmas–especially when you work retail.
Anyway, I told her that I hoped we brought a little Christmas cheer to her day. Then I proceeded to sing Jingle Bell to her. The other woman joined in with me. Yes, right there in Walmart we began singing.
We wished her a Merry Christmas and went on our way.
The girls and I giggled about our little caroling session in Walmart–though they refused to join in the singing. As we were leaving the parking lot Felecia suggested that we bring the cashier (Tamara) some Christmas cookies that we had made earlier that day. I thought that was a GREAT idea! Then I tried convince Felecia to bring her ukulele back to the store so that we could sing one more song. As we planned our little impromptu caroling adventure, we were all giggling, excited and a little bit nervous.
After arriving home, we shared our crazy plans with the rest of the family. They thought we were crazy! They also thought it was a nice thing to do. So the girls and I packed a few treats, practiced our song a few times and we were on our way! As we made our way back to Walmart, the girls expressed their nervousness. I was a little nervous too. But I told them that focusing on the reason we were doing this, would help them press through their nervousness.
Sometimes, blessing someone isn’t convenient, and comfortable.
It also doesn’t have to be some elaborate, pre-planned event. Often, it’s just being present in the moment, really seeing people, listening and being willing to give what you have in the moment. Listen to the Spirit’s prompting to do a good thing. Don’t overthink it. Don’t over complicate it. Just do it!
Parties, Christmas programs, shopping and traveling can so easily fill up our calendars during the holidays. They keep us rushing, rushing, rushing past the very people who need to encounter Immanuel –in us. Activities can keep us from experiencing the presence of Immanuel.
I do not say this to add guilt to your christmas stocking. I say this to give you permission to take a deep breath, and really take in the beauty, joy and hope of the season. Then exhale. Give a generous portion of joy, hope and love to the every day working folk whom you encounter everyday. They are the ones we often forget.
You don’t have to sing in Walmart. Just give what you have, to someone who seems to need a little extra joy in their season.
My girls and I went back to Walmart, stood in line and waited to approach Tamara. After approaching the register, I told her we were back to bring her some Christmas cheer and gave her the goodies that we brought. She told us that she couldn’t accept our gifts. We left them anyway and suggested that she put them in the break room to share with her other coworkers. We sang Jingle Bell Rock as Felecia accompanied us on her ukulele. Nothing earth shattering happened. She didn’t cry or express her undying thanks. She just smiled kinda nervously. We told her Merry Christmas and left.
My prayer is that she encountered Jesus’s love last night. I pray that this becomes a great Christmas memory for her. I pray that she received just the boost she needs to make through the rest of the holiday season. I pray that her Christmas is not longer described as–TERRIBLE. Maybe interesting. Crazy. Funny. But not–
I end this post with something I shared with our community group recently:
...This is the joy of Christmas. God choosing to leave the majesty, and comfort of his heavenly throne to enter this messy, broken world in order to rescue us! He took on the limitations of the human flesh ( time, energy, resource and positional contraints). He positioned himself in such a place of weakness that he needed his creation to care for him and protect him. It’s astounding to consider that the God who created the Universe, laid helplessly in the arms of a poor teenage girl!
Why would the long awaited King appear to such an unlikely family, in the most unexpected and insignificant place?
I believe God still appears in unlikely places and to the most unqualified, and insignificant people. (Like Walmart?)
I pray that each of us approaches this season with the excitement and anticipation of a little child. I know that if you look for him in the hard, messy places of life, YOU WILL FIND HIM. As you walk through hardship, YOU WILL FIND HIM. As you choose the way of love, YOU WILL FIND HIM.
And when we find him, may our response be worship!