Saturday, November 27, 2010
I was thinking today as I was walking about how
seemingly insignificant things happen on a day to
day basis and then later when we stop to think about
it, it becomes part of the fabric of our lives.
I was thinking I would be sharing with you a few of
my favorite Christmas stories each week starting today
until Christmas Day. I do love Christmas stories.
But my first story is a true one that I still think about
every year. It is part of me and I think changed me and how
God used it to open my eyes.
One of the things about working in a grocery store is you see
people when they are happy, or sad and just indifferent. Also,
being a checker in a grocery store is a bit like being a confessor
of sorts. When you ask people how they are, they tell you. Now
I happen to love hearing stories so I did love my job.
This was Christmas Eve. The store I worked in was sort of at
a cross roads. It sat at the bottom of a hill. If you went farther up the
hill you came to the richest part of our town. The mansions and the
very wealthy and the famous. Buck Owens had a house up there at one
On the down side of the hill, you entered into the very poorest part of town.
This was a very old, old section and lots of gang activity and hard things
went on in that part of town and the grocery store sat in the middle.
So my customers were from both sides.
Our grocery store had a meat counter so you could come in and order your meat.
So at Christmas time we sold lots of prime rib roasts and lots of turkeys for businesses
and of course, lots of pork roasts to make tamales.
We also sold masa which is the corn meal stuff that is used in making tamales.
We sold it in ten pound bags and when it would come in from the tortilla companies
it would still be warm and really nothing smells as good as warm masa.
During the Christmas season I bet I lifted tons and I mean tons of that stuff.
But it didn't matter because the families would be there and excited to go home
and start making tamales with aunts, and uncles, and cousins and grandmas and
they would be having fun and it always made me so happy too. I can still walk
by the deli in the grocery store today and pick up a bag and smell it and I am back
to that time.
The store had been so busy all day, we sold all of the masa, the pork roasts, the hojas
(corn husks) and the chili powder to make them. We also sold gourmet food as well.
I always worked Christmas Eve as well as my brothers and my sister. My Dad did too
because our life was all about customers.
But when the store was finally closed and we all went home, we knew that there
would be a giant prime rib, cooked to perfection and after a dinner with all of the china
we would then open presents. Of course, on Christmas Day we always had tamales.
On this night I had been working hard all day. We were getting ready to close the store.
It had finally quieted down the rest of the crew was filling the milk boxes and sweeping
and getting every thing ready for December 26th because we would be closed Christmas
Day. I was cleaning the counters when up to my counter comes a tiny little fairy of
a little girl. She was smiling and laughing and held loosely in the crook of her arm
was a tiny rag doll. It was cold and she wasn't wearing a very heavy coat, just a
light pink wind breaker. She had dark eyes and dark brown hair with a little
head band on to keep it out of her eyes. As she stood there dancing from foot to
foot, I noticed on the counter two Banquet turkey dinners. In this time it cost
39 cents for T.V. dinners. She looked up and me and said, " Daddy, is buying
our Christmas dinners."
Every thing in me just cringed and I have always thought he looked what I thought
a gypsy might look like, dark hair a bit long on his collar, his hands rough and dry
and red from the cold. His eyes were black and looked deep into mine the way
a bird looks at you when it is frightened.
I was trying not to draw any attention to myself and her Dad stood there and was
counting out 78 cents. I had change in my pocket but I knew to offer a man like
that would have shamed him in front of his little girl so I just stood there and waited.
I think it took every penny he had to buy those dinners.
I asked her in my fumbling way, " Was she excited about Christmas?" She smiled
as she reached her hand into his work worn ones, and as she smiled up at him, "She said,
Oh, yes, I have everything I wanted, I have my Daddy." He smiled a shy smile and
as they turned to leave, I wished them a Merry Christmas. The both smiled
and went out in the cold, walking down the hill to the poorer side of town. Only,
you know what I think, there is a verse that says, Some of you as it were, have
entertained angels unaware.
I think that day, that maybe as I stood there and it was just me and them, maybe
just maybe that is what they were. Because it changed me and how I saw Christmas.
It has became the fabric of my life and always at this time of year, I look for that
man and his dancing little girl with a doll under her arm.
I hope that you will have a lovely Sunday. I look forward to sharing
some of my favorite stories with you in these next few weeks.
Have a lovely day.