19 November 2014

Merry Christmas to me

I tell this story not to show what a great guy I am, but to remind me that at least this one time, I did the right thing. Barely.

today I went to lunch at a Chinese place by my office. As I walked I passed a young woman with a baby, sitting near the entrance. That was not unusual. This time of year there are plenty of babies and moms on the Minneapolis skyway. Christmas shopping, pictures with Santa, etc.

What caught my attention was the sadness on her face. Like something out of a painting. One of those expressions that we have when we are out of options. Deep sadness mixed with gloom, agony, despair. 

I went inside and ate. I ate quickly as I do when something is bugging me. I kept thinking about her. wondering why she was so sad. Feeling guilty that I didn't stop and ask her. But of course my guilt was not so great that I would go look for her. Of course not, I had lunch to eat. If I left I'd lose my place in line! No, I just waded through with the sort of bad feeling that you let linger. Just long enough until there is nothing you can do about it.

I finished my meal. I walked back to where she was sitting, and of course she was gone. I looked around. I strolled through the skyway and headed toward the direction of Macy's and Target, thinking that if I were her I might be going that way.

Whatever she had been doing and whatever I was doing fell into synch. There she was again, this time pushing the baby in a stroller and on her phone.

Unlike when I first saw her there were now a lot of people around. So I wasn't going to actually talk to her, that would have looked weird.

She was talking to a friend asking for money to buy her baby a coat and hat. Something about being robbed last week. No help came from that friend I could tell. As I passed her she was quickly dialing another friend, and I stayed close enough to hear her plead,  "do you have 30 or 40 dollars that I can borrow until payday?" She retold the story again of her situation.

I felt the wad of bills in my pocket, and I knew it was about what she needed.

I turned around and looked at her. She could have been twenty or so, but had the care-worn face of someone much older. I handed her the bills and said, "this is for you. Merry Christmas". she had a stunned look on her face. And in the middle of Macy's, a week before Thanksgiving, I got this wonderful Christmas-style bear hug. She said " thank you so much". I mumbled a reply. 

I walked off to hear her, still on the phone with her friend, "you wont believe what just happened..."

I will buy a lot of things this Christmas and spend a lot of money on people I love. Some on sale, some not. But the best bargain of the Christmas season will be that forty dollar hug.

There are so many needs around us. So easy to just keep walking.

09 November 2014


We are getting ready for the first snow storm since last winter. The house is ready. The summer tools are all put away. Rakes, shovels, hoe, wheelbarrow and lawnmower are sound asleep in the shed. They'll hibernate until some day in April, perhaps March, they are called to duty again.

Only the smoker is still on duty, our iron sentry in the backyard, awaiting a Thanksgiving rendezvous with a turkey. 

Our first snow is usually a light one, an inch or two. They say this one will be several multiples of that. We'll see.

It has been a good fall. One of the best of our twelve years in Minnesota.

It is 45 days until Christmas.