Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Discouraged, in a Season of Hope

christmas birds
I couldn’t help but notice her-an elderly woman, perhaps in her 80’s, shoulders hunched, a cart full of groceries-and a bewildered look on her face.   She was a couple places ahead of us in line, and I could clearly see that she was having trouble.   Standing at one of the four  self checkout registers, she just couldn’t figure  out what to do.  The line of people moved around her-everyone wanting to get out of the store and go home.  I saw her ask first one clerk for help, only to get brushed off because the clerk was in the middle of doing something else.  She then asked another clerk for help, only to be told, “I’m sorry, but my shift just ended.”  Finally, I went up to her and offered to help, but she declined.  I could see by now she was extremely embarrassed, but more than that, she was worried about being a bother to someone.  “Are you sure?”  I asked.  “Yes, thank you.”  And so we made our purchases, and left.  I was trying hard not to cry.

I don’t think I need to go into the emotions I was feeling.  I bet you can guess, because I bet you would have felt as I did.    Angry, appalled, bewildered myself...  That why,  in this season of goodwill, somehow this poor woman didn’t count?

While I’ll never have a second chance to help this woman out when she needed help (I should have tried harder) I was thinking about the little things I can do to feel hopeful when I get discouraged.  Here is my list.

1.  Hug my daughter.  She is the greatest gift I have ever been given.

2.  Pet my dogs.  Without even trying to, they make my day with their antics!

3.  Say a prayer for someone-anyone.  It doesn’t even have to be someone I know.

4.  Get the name of a needy child, and buy them a Christmas present.  The fact that it’s anonymous makes it even better.

5.  Reach out and touch someone on the arm when I am talking to them.  I think people need that human connection.

6.  Bake something.  It’s like a hug from a grandmother!  And baking with the help of a child is even better.  My daughter and I have spent many happy hours together in the kitchen.  Next week, my almost 3 year old nephew will be here and Amy and I plan to bake something with him.

7.  When the living room is still dark, I like to plug in the Christmas tree and revel in the quiet beauty of the colored lights.

8. Watch an old Christmas movie.  One of my favorites is “It Happened on 5th Avenue.”

9.  Say “Thank You” to my husband.  For all the things he does that go unnoticed, because I’m too busy grousing about socks on the floor, or dirty dishes in the sink.

10.  Look for the good.  It’s so easy for me to notice the bad around me-I think we live in a culture that feeds off of it, but there is plenty of good to be found.

What would you add to the list?  Please tell me-I’d love to know!


  1. Your list is perfect! This world has become so impersonal, it seems. I think the Greatest Generation must have a particularly difficult time coming to terms with it. Back in their day, this kind of thing just didn't happen. People weren't so busy and so self-involved.

    My daughter is my greatest gift, too. :-)

  2. You are so right-I think there are a lot of things today that the Greatest Generation finds difficult to understand. I can't help but wonder what happened to the woman in the store after I left-I still can see her there with her cart of groceries-and hoping she wasn't buying any ice cream. She's one who got a special prayer from me.

  3. Sometimes the smallest gestures are the best ... holding a door for someone, letting a driver pull out in front of you, that sort of thing. I think that's the secret, it really doesn't take much to make our own small world a better place :)

  4. I've felt the same way many times. You're list is wonderful! And such a good reminder that we have so much to be thankful for, and to focus on the positive.

  5. Small gestures are the best, aren't they? And they make everyone involved feel so good-it restores my faith in people, and reminds me that I do have many reasons to be thankful!
    Thank you so much for leaving me such wonderful comments-I am thankful for all of you:)

  6. You are soooooo right. I will tell you what I WILL do. I will say thank you and please all the time. Even if people are hurried or seem ungrateful, I will be grateful for them. I will find gratitude in everything, every day with everyone.

    Merry Christmas to you!

  7. I couldn't agree with you more Tanya! That is so, so true! :) If only everyone would be like that-how wonderful that would be!

  8. Very nice list. It is hard to see someone in need but part of life is also knowing how to ask for help. You can't help if someone doesn't want the help.

  9. Listen to music. Whenever we are having a hard day we stop and turn on some music. It is very healing.

    It is also nice to donate my time to local non-profits, even if it is only for a few hours.