Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Face of Christmas

--
I was beating a hasty retreat out of Costco--a place I avoid as much as possible, and twice as much this time of year!

I wouldn't have even been there that day since Hero Husband had heroically already been there a couple of hours earlier, delighting me with his chivalry in taking this chore off my hands.  He knows how I feel about the crush of too many people milling around like confused cattle, complete with mooing and the occasional stampede when samples are close by. However, the kids and I were out running a few errands which included filling up the gas tank, and Costco is my station of choice because of their nice price.  Since we were there, Drummer Boy asked if we could go in and get a couple of things for the breakfasts and lunches he likes, things I knew Hero Husband had not known we needed.  Sigh.  I did not want to go in, but knew it was probably the best time to do it, so in we went.

I had hoped to just get in, find our two items, and get the heck out of there without any more delay than necessary.  Nice try Mom.  There were 70" flat screens to salivate over, winter jackets to try on, and a delectable array of fancy cheeses to be sampled and re-sampled that all conspired against my best laid plans (the herb-crusted brie and the cheese/prosciutto roll WAS amazing and worth stopping for).  We even ran into a couple of friends we hadn't seen in years and stopped to chat with them, right smack in the middle of the cheese tasting area--lovely to see them, but not the easiest location for catching up.  People kept giving us dirty looks and "harumph"-ing their way around us.  Sheesh.

Eventually we managed to get all the way back to the front of the store, made it through the checkout, and I was moving fast, trying to instill a little hurry-up in my kids who were just enjoying all there was to see and taste.  I was grinding my teeth on the fact that I had not planned this stop into my errand-running, and now we were so behind that the one thing I had hoped to accomplish was out of reach, traffic was at its Christmas-rush-hour worst, and dinner would be late for my hard-working man.  My Christmas spirit was seriously wavering.

Just as we approached the huge open door to leave, my eyes were darting around looking for the most unimpeded path to get out of the melee when I saw her. Standing patiently in the Returns/Exchanges line, was a tiny little lady in a festive red fleece jacket which was smartly accented by a green and white checked scarf, her silver hair combed neatly into pretty curls that framed the soft roundness of her cheeks. The Christmas tree pin that sparkled merrily on her lapel was no match for the sparkle in her dancing blue eyes.  My eyes found hers for the briefest of moments, but that was all the time she needed to warm my frosty and frazzled heart with a smile worthy of Mrs. Claus. I answered her warmth with an appreciative smile, and went on out into the night toward our car.

The minute I passed through the door, I knew I had to go back.  I handed the keys to Drummer Boy, told the kids I'd be right back, and dashed back inside to find the little Christmas lady.  She was right where I left her, still waiting patiently. I tried to approach slowly so as not to startle her, and tapped her on the shoulder from behind.  She turned toward me with her smile already in place.  I reached out to shake her gloved hand and said, "I just had to come back and thank you.  You have a face that looks like it's used to smiling--you look like Christmas!"

Her already-smiling face lit up with an expression of bewildered delight--she had never expected that from anyone, but it clearly filled her with joy to hear it.  She blushed prettily and gushed an enthusiastic, "Thank you so much for saying that!"  We squeezed hands, said "Merry Christmas" in stereo, and I headed back outside to hurry home.


One small encounter, a sparkle of Christmas that connected hearts, if only for a moment, but what a moment! While I can't know for certain, I'd be willing to bet she's a Jesus-girl.  You don't sculpt a lifetime of smiles into a sweet little Mrs. Claus face without a lifetime of joyfulness to produce it.  I only know one way to get joy like that--to know Jesus, to love Him and to let His superabundant joy flow out through everything you do.  Either that, or she was an angel!  I wouldn't have a hard time believing that either!

"Forget not to show love unto strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."  Hebrews 13:2 ASV

I pray that I can put the joy of Christmas into everything I do, all year round, including the expression I wear most often through my life.  I pray that for you too!  May the joy we know in Jesus eclipse any frown, every worry, each sorrow or sadness or disappointment.  May we ever know Him as Emmanuel, God come down to be with us--there can be no greater joy than that!

How will you keep Christmas joy on your face . . . all year round . . . for a lifetime?
Have you ever wondered what expression you are sculpting into the face you'll have when you're older??
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