12.20.2013

Shopping Carts and Cotton Balls

At the end of treatment this summer, I posted a blog about reading people's "signs." The one where I asked everyone to leave the house with a little more grace in their pockets to hand out during the day.  The one where I gently asked everyone to pass out some "benefit of the doubt" to people who might not appear like they deserve it. And to look for malnourished bald girls with screaming children and give them a smile, not a scowl.

If ever there is a time of year where tensions are higher than expectations, it is now. And now is the time to put an entire handful of that grace in your purse before you head to Target for the 8th 11th 12th time this week.

All the pressures of holiday expectations aside, I had a little experience this week that reminded me of that very blog post. And now I will expanded my message and request you not only take grace with you, but simply pay attention. If you are sitting in a public place with your head buried in your phone while reading this post, I'm talking to you.

I was leaving Target the other morning with a cart stacked full of groceries. It was lightly snowing, as it so often does around here, and they hadn't come through the parking lot to clear the few inches of fluffy snow already on the ground. Fluffy snow is awesome, unless you are trying to push a stroller through it to the school bus stop or a shopping cart full of groceries.

Envision pushing your cart through a few inches of cotton balls. Now pick up 30 pounds of dead weight encased in even more cotton balls, and try to carry it in an effort to expedite getting to your truck in a timely manor. Cold temperatures have a way of making you want to hurry, and hurry is not a word in the vocabulary of a small child dressed up like a puffy marshmallow.

As I was multitasking through the parking lot, I pulled to the side so a car could pass me. There was no way to make what I was doing look easy. I was managing, and my strong-willed self was determined. But I was struggling. No sooner had I pulled over to the side and set Lachlan down than the very lady that passed me jumped out of her car and asked if she could help.

I was shocked and amazed and so close to my truck at that point that I turned her down.

Had I been the Grinch, my heart would have grown three sizes on the spot and I walked around with warm fuzzies for the remainder of the day. I even found the experience Facebook status worthy.

In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we so often have only our on agenda on our minds as we push through crowds, wait in long lines and stare at even longer lists. My heart was warmed by a women who was simply paying attention to what was going on around her and her action made my day. She blessed me and touched me and helped me, even if I turned her down.

I encourage you to look up from your phone, stop trying to order something from your Amazon app while standing in line at Target and look for even the littlest way to reach out and help. Please renew someone's faith in humanity.

We're about to get on a plane and head back East, and it's not the trip I dread or landing at 12:40am with 2 little kids up way past their bedtime. It's running into all those people who think their priorities are greater than everyone else's. It's all those people who won't be paying attention and will do damage to their fellow mankind along the way. I will head to the airport with extra grace to hand out, and despite having my own brood to manage, will keep my head up in case there is some way I can pay it forward and help make someone's moment just a tiny bit easier.

It's a sad reflection of our society when a simple offer of help is far more shocking and touching than just being ignored by someone buried deep in their phone or people too isolated to want to get involved. Pay extra attention this holiday season, for your act of kindness can trump any act of rudeness. Change people's expectations of their fellow man.

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