Christmas Angels

christmas paint
christmas paint (Photo credit: cassie_bedfordgolf)

Each year, Christmas Spirit enters into my soul and settles, like a cool mist on the hard winter ground. Always a little different, depending on the state of my life. Christmas gives me something every year, but I am only able to accept what I’m ready for in my heart.

I’ve spent many Christmases feeling sorry for myself, alone and pitiful. I used to wonder what my purpose is, am I fulfilling it, am I a success, a failure, how can I improve myself so that I will be happy.
As the years pass, my concerns are more for others than myself. How do I give my family a happy pleasant day, and carry it through the year? Who can I help that needs help? How can I spend my time to make the world a happier, more peaceful place – whether it’s just my little corner of Smithfield, Rhode Island, the nation, the world?

I’ve witnessed many random acts of kindness this past week, more than the obligatory letting cars pull out in front of you at the Mall on Christmas Eve. I believe it’s a result of those horrendous events in Newtown, Connecticut. How many parents are holding their children closer, being a little more patient, living in the moment a little more? I know I am.

Today at the market, as I stood in line with thirty other people waiting for deli meats and cheeses for the Christmas Eve table, a woman waited next to me. She was a Deli Angel, there is no other explanation. When it was finally her turn, she asked for one thing, and upon receiving it, gave it to an elderly couple, who no doubt had been waiting there much longer than her, or me. They looked up and smiled at her and said Merry Christmas, and hobbled away with their booty. And then she did it again. She then ordered her own items and left. Just helping people not have to stand in line for an hour for a pound of prosciutto or polish ham. She didn’t look rich, or particularly attractive on the outside. But she glowed like a diamond.

Later this morning, at yet another market, my ever-shrinking 5 foot 4 frame stretched to reach the top jam shelf in search of currant jelly. I was ready to start climbing, because that jelly is an essential ingredient for the sweet and sour meatballs my non-Italian, seafood hating husband will call dinner tomorrow while the rest of us eat squid and smelts and shrimp. A man, who I could have sworn had just said to his little girl that they need to hurry home, stopped and started reaching with me. He checked a dozen or so jars and there were rhubarb and strawberry, raspberry and grape, but no currant. I finally found the jelly on a low shelf (if I had only looked down) and the man smiled and laughed (I would not have) and left. I just kept mumbling thank you and sorry.

These are tiny things, insignificant in many ways. But they are conscious, random acts of kindness that sometimes happen throughout the year, but often happen when Christmas Spirit settles into our souls. Even more so this year. There is so much pain to make up for.

Last night I saw that one of my writing heroes, Ann Hood, posted an Op Ed piece in the Washington Post.

She told the world what it feels like to lose your child, as she did 10 years ago, when her 5-year-old Grace died of a viral form of strep. She rehashed those feelings within herself and offered comfort to those who lost their little children in a very different way. The shock still stabs them in the gut the same way, though. She also shook some sense into the rest of us. She too, is a Christmas Angel.

As I accept the gifts that Christmas Spirit provides this year, I am grateful that I can accept more, that my heart has grown over time. With that acceptance comes the realization that there is horror and suffering and misery in the world, even at Christmas. But, thankfully, there will always be Christmas Angels.

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