There's a proverb that reminds me of the Christmas season. As most proverbs, it should be utmost in our mind and actions every day. Maybe for some, it is a way of life, but for others not so much.
I quote Proverbs 12:25
"An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up."
As we bustle about making ready for Christmas, we encounter hundreds of other folks scurrying about searching for gifts and crossing out items on their To Do List. The other day I was at one of the Big Chain stores with said list in hand. I turned a corner and met up with an acquaintance who also had her list in her grasp. A few moments later a third acquaintance shuffled up holding her list. We all laughed and chatted a few more moments before we continued on our own paths.
Later, at the check out counter I was able to do one of my favorite things - people watch. To my left was a snarky man with a rancid bite to his words. He spoke to the pre-teen children with him as if being with them was worse than punishment. I mentally commended the kids for their good behavior despite his badgering for no good reason that I could see. His attitude did not improve when he encountered the clerk, who was an older woman. I wondered if this man enjoyed anyone's company. Who would want to spend time with him this Christmas? I couldn't decide if I felt sorry for him or disgust that he couldn't pull it together for common decency's sake.
To the right of me stood a young couple. The girl obviously knew her task as provider of gifts while the man stood quietly by not offering much assistance, but seemed agreeable to enduring the task. My smile turned lopsided. This young man had great potential. He smiled to the clerk and laughed at something the girl said as they pushed their cart toward the door. The clerk turned to her next customer with a smile and I like to think the young couple had made her day brighter.
As I waited in line, the family in front of me had become antsy. I couldn't blame them. I wanted out of the line too. I wanted to get on my way. I counted two other lanes open from the twenty registers. I heard the mama use bribery like a pro. If the children could stand quietly until they were finished and no she did not know how much longer it would take, they would stop for a treat. Drooping shoulders told me the youngsters understood the consequences. Dad ruffled the little boy's head and picked up the little girl who had wanted down just a moment before.
Determined to keep my peace, I endured the long wait. The little girl asked another ten times if they could go now. Dad laughed. I laughed. It had been an absurdly long wait, but this family kept their happiness in tact. It made my day to see them succeed in the tight confines of the waiting line.
I remembered to smile and chat with the clerk. She too was an older woman and seemed to appreciate the common courtesy of treating her as a human being. I left the store much later than I had anticipated.
I still stopped for a treat. I guess the mama's words had inspired me as well! The drive-up window went much faster and the young man who handed me my milkshake offered the biggest smile along with my change. I smiled back.
A kind word, a warm smile is a small price to pay in order to have a better day. I plan to pay it forward. How about you?
Til next time ~