Like the crazy woman that I am, I decided to brave the local Wal-Mart six days before Christmas. If you value your sanity, this is not recommended. People are loud, rushing, short-tempered, and grumbly.
It was raining as we got out of the car. The kids and I were lucky enough to park close to the doors. As we approached, I saw that there was a Salvation Army Bell Ringer out front. I remembered that I had some change (which is rare) so each child got a quarter to drop in the bucket. We went on and did our shopping, trying to get out of there for as little as possible. Those last few gifts for Jonathan are nagging me. (he got a Hot Wheels cars and a very soft blue fleece shirt, which he needed).
So we're leaving and I dig my own quarter out for the Bell Ringer. In the rain, this woman is standing there ringing the bell. Smiling. In the rain. She's a beautiful African woman, with the traditional headwrap...So I put my quarter in and say, "Merry Christmas to you.".......then I noticed that she reached in her pocket of her jacket and removed a lil notepad and put a checkmark and replied, "Merry Christmas."
Now, I am way too curious to let this slide...and I just have to know. So I asked her what's up with the notepad. So she tells me that she's keeping track of how many people actually say Merry Christmas to her. I asked if Wal-Mart was doing that or was it the Salvation Army.....she replied that no, it was for her own benefit. She says, in a beautiful accent, "In my country, you cannot openly worship Jesus Christ. You are not allowed to be a believer...and here we sit in this city of Freedom, and people do not exercise their right to religion. I do not understand that...."
I gulped. And realized that she's right. So many people don't say, "Hey! It's the birth of CHRIST, not the coming of Santa Claus...." The birth of Jesus is getting swept away with commercialism. Has been for a while now. And this beautiful godly woman, from another country where she would be persecuted for her Christian beliefs, can see it, too.
So I walked away with my eyes brimming with tears.
I thanked her and told her again, Merry Christmas.