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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Dottie took the handful of coins and brought them over to containers on the shelf behind the sink in her kitchen. She reached for a ceramic jar, removed the lid, and then dropped the quarters in. The dimes and nickels went into a second jar next to it.

Curiosity got the best of me, and I had to ask, “Do you separate them to make it easier to count out later?”

“No, they’re for the Christmas Jar. Didn’t I ever tell you that story?”

 Realizing that no, she hadn’t, she shared a fascinating story of hope.

 “A few years ago, my husband was suffering from a long illness. For five years there was no income. We had gone through all our savings… I had sold most of my jewelry. The housing market was terrible….our vacation home wasn’t selling and my adult kids were helping to pay two mortgages. Then he died. The bills kept coming in.

“I was in a bad way, financially and emotionally.

“It was to be my first Christmas without him. My oldest daughter had flown me down to her home in Virginia to be with her and her family for the week before the holiday. When I returned home, another daughter picked me up from the airport. The plane had been delayed due to a terrible snowstorm. I was exhausted. When we got to my house, I had to walk through deep snow to get to the front door.

“Finally getting to the top of the stairs, I opened the storm door and a bag fell over. My first reaction was What now?

 Christmas Jar1“I brought the heavy bag into the house. Inside was a book and a mason jar filled with coins and a few folded paper bills. I was stunned.

“When I later counted the money, there was just over $100 in it! I no longer felt hopeless, and I was deeply touched that someone would do this for me.

 “The giver was anonymous, and I still don’t know who gave the jar to me.

“After I received the jar, things turned around. The vacation house sold. I was able to pay my bills and stay in the house we had owned for 50 years.

 “I never used the money from the Christmas Jar. The jar is still upstairs. It gave me hope at a time when I was at my lowest. Now every year I save money to put into a jar that I give to someone else, so they can have that same feeling of hope, and know that they are not alone. But, it’s important that the person doesn’t know who gave them the jar, it has to be anonymous.”

 After she shared her story, Dottie sent me upstairs to get the jar and the book. The jar was heavy, filled with coins, topped with a shiny silver bow. She had added masking tape which proudly stated “My Christmas Jar”. The book, Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright, explained the background of the jar.

On the inside cover of the book she had inscribed her name, followed by Left at my door 12/21/09. I will always be grateful to my unknown donor.

 “The Christmas Jar was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

© Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio 2012

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This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12

It was Christmastime in New York City. The kids and I were playing tourist during Christmas break.

 

We had taken the express train into New York. Every car on the train was packed with Long Island tourists like ourselves this Christmas week. The day was unseasonably warm, which probably added to the number of people heading into the city. We settled into a seat, open the fold-out map, and planned our day.

 

When we reached Penn Station, we walked upstairs and outside into the crowds on the sidewalk. It was noisy: vendors called attention to their wares spread out on tables along the sidewalk: watches, scarves, and pocket books. Taxi horns, calls of the tour guides, loud chatter of people as they moved along, bicycle bells, roar of the busses and cars as they moved down the road bombarded us. Smells of the pretzels and roasted nuts from the sidewalk vendors floated in the air.

 

Our plan was to walk up Fifth Avenue to RockefellerCenter, to see the tree. It seemed like this was everyone else’s destination, too. We joined the herd of people heading up Fifth Avenue. “Packed like sardines” doesn’t even begin to describe the crowds as we moved along.

 

After a few blocks, the crowd slowed down to a crawl. Something was blocking the sidewalk ahead. The kids and I couldn’t see what was causing the slowdown; packed in, we could only move along with the crowd. The crowd started to get cranky: kids whined, people grumbled and started jostling each other on the walkway. Because of the Christmas crowds and the traffic on the street next to us, the only place to go was to continue on the sidewalk, inching along.

 

As we moved up the street, we could see that the people up ahead seemed to move around something on the sidewalk, then continue on a bit faster.  What could be causing this pedestrian traffic jam?

 

We got closer, and saw the reason for the jam up: an elderly couple was moving very slowly along on the sidewalk. Maybe they were married, maybe they were siblings or just friends. If I had to guess their ages, I’d say they were in their mid-to-late 90s. In spite of the warm weather, each was dressed in a heavy overcoat. They were both petite, frail looking, but with an amazing inner strength. The gentleman was bent over a walker, shuffling along. The lady was next to him, holding his arm for support, as she slowly shuffled along with him. Their package from the grocery store was hooked around the walker. Both were intently fixed on the sidewalk, determined, careful of where they were stepping, focusing on moving ahead.

 

In their own way, each one was supporting the other as they walked. Well, shuffled.

 

As they passed the couple on the sidewalk, the change in the crowd was remarkable. The people passing stopped talking, gave the couple a gentle smile, and walked around them, giving them plenty of room on the sidewalk. As the crowd reformed in front of the couple, the mood had changed: people had more patience, and they were friendlier to those around them. People who just a few moments before were very grouchy, were now smiling, greeting strangers with a “Hello” and a “Merry Christmas” while waiting for the light to change at the next cross walk.

 

I saw God that day in the elderly couple on Fifth Avenue. In their simple daily activity, The Lord used that couple to show that we are to love and care for each other, support one another, as we move along in life. Always.

© Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio, Seeing God In The Ordinary 2011

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