Sometimes it can be hard to practice what you preach. In a time where a lot of us are go-go-go, it can be hard to do the things we really pride ourselves on doing.
I talk a lot on this site about the importance of the human connection. Being nice to people and going out of your way, doing things to just connect with and support others. Tonight I caught myself shying away from that and I’m glad that I caught myself.
I was off to McDonalds for chicken nuggets, as so many of my stories seem to start. I decided to go in and eat before heading off to pick up some groceries. I’ve been taught that it’s a lot smarter to shop on a full stomach (so I don’t buy everything under the sun).
Inside, I saw an older lady seated in a walker talking to a man who was about my age. She was asking about a way to get to Wal-Mart, just across the road. She turned to me and asked me if I was heading in that direction, and if I could just give her a lift.
”No, I’m not heading that way. Sorry.”
That’s what I said. To a sweet, nice lady who was very clearly struggling. A moment of clarity washed over me – what if this was my grandmother? What if it was me? Just because it changes my plans ever so slightly, I can’t help her? Isn’t that what I talk about all the damn time?
I went back to her and said that I could definitely drop her off. Her name is Ann, and she’s 88 years old and sweet as sugar. While I waited for my food, we chatted. She had over-estimated how tiring getting groceries would be, and she just needed a lift. Ann has heart problems, and the cold was really effecting her.
Eventually she mentioned living in a condo – one that is right across the street from the university I work at. So instead, I drove her to her condo and she talked about the importance of giving back. “I used to give rides and help out when I was younger, knowing God would let it come back around. Eventually, it will come back to you too.”
She talked about moving to a new home in January, and we talked about the cold and the Christmas holidays. Once Ann was situated at the front of her condo with her walker & McDonalds coffee, she reached out and shook my hand. I could feel the gratitude from this woman fill my heart, Grinch-style.
”Merry Christmas, God bless you, and Happy New Years. Good things will come to you,” Ann said before walking inside.
Just like that, I am filled with the spirit of the season. I had been missing what the holidays are meant to be about. Not two weeks earlier, I was stressing about what to get people for Christmas presents. I had forgotten that people don’t like you because of the gifts you give; they like the gifts because they like you.
The holidays are meant for spreading good cheer, good will, and reflecting on all that we have to be thankful and grateful for. Ann mentioned being the last one of her family left – both sisters and her parents are gone. Yet every week she treats herself to some fast food because she’s earned it. That’s a little thing we all can learn to do.
This isn’t meant to be a “look what I did” story, but instead the message is that it’s okay if sometimes we lose track of the things that matter and the big picture. It happens to me, and I think it happens to everyone. Sometimes though, little moments will be able restore your faith and clear up a picture for you.
I’m thankful for Ann, and for the fact that I decided to get McDonalds for the second time in a weekend (no judgement please). I hope she, and all of you, have a wonderful holiday season.