The following little story may make a bit more sense if you read this one, first. But if you choose to read on without checking out the tiny back story, enjoy.
Chicken breasts. Soup. Biscuits. And chips to replace the bag of chips I opened and managed to make quite a dent in at about 1 a.m. Friday night, and then again yesterday while wrapping gifts. Yes, I know they’re empty calories. Boy, do I know. But those couple of handfuls were exactly what I needed Friday as the clock struck 1, and I was – surprise! - not sleeping again. They may not have been what I needed while wrapping gifts since scotch tape and chip crumbs don’t go together. I can’t explain that one.
Anyway, back to my chicken. I pulled into Giant and noticed a couple – their backs were to me – standing at the edge of the parking area, holding up a sign. “Great. What are they looking for…..” and I couldn’t read it – going the wrong direction. I turned into a spot and made a mental note to find another way out of the lot so I wouldn’t have to pass them and their cause du jour again.
Bought the chicken and soup. Bought the biscuits. Replaced the chips. As I stood at the checkout, I contemplated paying with cash or using the credit card. Me, to self: “We used up a lot of Best Buy points in the past month. May as well start building that up again…” and I handed over my card.
Back in the car, thinking that if I get home in about five minutes and get this chicken in the crock pot, we’ll have dinner at about 6 or 7. Do-able. Easy. Then I can bake the pies and that batch of cookies; make the dough for the cut-outs and get that in refrigerator, polish the last couple pieces of silver I didn’t get to Friday night / Saturday morning and then finally create the outdoor greenery arrangements in our flower pots out front. Yes, that all works. I’m in good shape. We’ll decorate the tree tonight; and with one more run to Target tonight at about 9, I’m done. Yahoo!
What the…darn it! Fouled this up and took the same route out of the lot and now here’s that couple again. He’s holding up a sign; she is simply looking pleasant and hopeful with every passing car. This time, I can read it. “Please help us at Christmas; we have two children.” I think that’s all it said. I found myself turning back into the lot, pulling over and tearing up.
In less time than it took me to type this; in less time than it will take you to read it, I had every one of the following thoughts flash through my mind: Do they need permission to stand here? Is this allowed? Are they working? Isn’t one of them working, for God’s sake? Didn’t they save any money for Christmas..with two kids? Are they even Christian? They look middle eastern; maybe Indian…she’s wearing a sari of some kind….do they celebrate Christmas? And who’s watching their kids today? Answer me that. They must have family or support of some kind if they’re both standing out in a grocery store parking lot, without their children, holding up a sign, announcing their needy situation to strangers who were filling their own pantries, basically asking us to fund their Christmas day.
Thought all of that in a matter of seconds. And then I pulled up near them, motioned to the woman, and handed her the money I had tucked back into my wallet when I used my credit card. She smiled; the man turned to me and smiled. She placed her hands in a position of prayer and made a slight bow as she said, “God bless you; thank you, thank you.” The man said the same and I was off.
I can’t explain why. Maybe because while I was efficiently planning dinner and every lovely Christmas-y thing I would do for the rest of the day, and thinking about the beautiful tree that would stand next to our fireplace that night, with my three sons home, by my side, and filling up my heart with love, this couple was standing out in a grocery store parking lot, without their children, holding up a sign, announcing their situation to strangers who were filling their own pantries, basically asking us to fund their Christmas day.