I have a best buddy called Barry and we have been through many ups and downs over the 25 years we have known each other.
He has been there for me in my toughest times, and I have been there for him in his toughest times. We have also been there for each other in our greatest times. We have shared life together and this has made us better people.
Barry was there for me when I was single for 14 years before I met Julie and he and his wonderful wife Linda had me over countless times to eat with them and for their company. Barry was also our best man at one of my greatest moments when Julie and I married in 2015.
Sometimes the simplest things in life are the most important. A kind word, a listening ear, a little gift as a thank you. I came across this story in Word for Today about saying thank you and it made me think about the importance of saying thank you and the importance of a generous heart.
She wanted to say thank you
One afternoon a little girl stood outside Pete Richardson’s antique shop studying the treasures in the window. Then she went in and asked to see a string of blue beads. When Pete set them on the counter, she said:
‘They’re perfect. Will you gift wrap them, please? They’re for my sister. She takes care of me. This will be our first Christmas since Mum died, and I’ve been looking for the perfect present.’
‘How much do you have?’ asked Pete cautiously. Pouring a stack of coins on the counter, she said, ‘I emptied my bank.’ Pete picked up the necklace, the price tag visible to him and not her.
‘What’s your name?’ he asked, walking into the back room. ‘Jean Grace,’ she replied. Pete returned with a beautifully wrapped package, and the little girl thanked him and left.
On Christmas Eve when the last customer had left and he was locking up, a young woman rushed into the store and handed him a familiar package.
‘Do you remember who you sold this to?’ she asked. ‘A girl called Jean bought them for her big sister,’ he replied. ‘How much are they worth?’ she inquired. ‘The price,’ Pete replied, ‘is always confidential between the seller and his customer.’
Her sister asked, ‘But how could she pay for them?’ Carefully rewrapping the present, Pete handed it back to her and said, ‘She paid the biggest price anyone can ever pay. She gave everything she had.’
A great example of kindness
What a wonderful story of generosity shown by this lovely man. He could have just said sorry but what she had wasn’t enough, but he showed compassion and covered the cost of the beautiful blue beads.
This second story demonstrates very clearly one of my favourite phrases “It’s not what happens in life which counts, it’s how you respond which makes all the difference.”
A difficult Christmas
At this time of year, it’s tempting to buy into the myth that everybody else is enjoying a picture-perfect Christmas. The truth is, there are thousands out there whose lives have been forever altered by death, divorce, sickness, and financial problems.
Tammy Hanson Maltby writes: ‘It was December 20. There was no hint of Christmas around our house…Most years, our tree was up the day after Thanksgiving…Christmas music…and luscious aromas filled the air…Our house had been Christmas central.
Not this year…My 20-year marriage had just dissolved…My budget was stretched…and my spirit was strained even further. Some days I could barely manage to get out of bed…All four of my kids were home on Christmas break. And there was still no tree.
“This is really depressing,” I heard one of them grumble, and my heart broke again. “I’ll get a tree tomorrow,” I repeated. Even I didn’t believe my words.
‘That evening…I heard voices…in the…basement…There, near the piano, stood the scruffy little artificial conifer…I’d bought…years before, and I used it to hang [the kids’] school ornaments…creations that just didn’t look right on my majestic, fragrant, decorated, upstairs tree.
The kids had…set it up, draped it with lights, and hung their childhood ornaments…It was still scruffy, but it was beautiful…I was happy…And overcome with gratitude that they had gotten together to make it happen for me.’
If you’re having a tough Christmas, don’t beat yourself up. Remember, you can get through anything for one day.
Not all people are happy at Christmas time
There are probably hundreds of thousands of people across the country who are struggling this Christmas. Some are alone, some are in difficult marriages, some are broke, some are lonely, some are ill, some are depressed, some even suicidal.
Christmas highlights and magnifies the problems people have because it’s meant to be a joyous time for everyone but it’s not in many cases. So, as we approach Christmas Day, be aware of anyone you know who may be struggling in any way and think if there is anything you can do to help.
It could be a kind word, some physical help or it could be an invitation to come over for a mince pie and coffee. This action could dramatically improve someone’s day and bring them back from despair or even worse. Even if they decline, they will know for sure that at least someone cares.
Thoughts for the week
- Can you give someone a Christmas present of compassion this week?
- It could be any form of contact at all to someone you may be aware is lonely or in trouble.
- This single action could change the way someone feels and may give them hope.
- It could be something that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Well, that’s it for this week, have a wonderful weekend and Merry Christmas.