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Shopping at Costco During Christmas

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Today at Costco, amidst the flurry of people, shopping carts, and poinsettias, Mikey and I finally found our way to a long check out line to end our trip and as we stepped into line we looked at each other and said one word: “Pizza”.

We settled that he would wait in the Disneyland-ride sized line to check out and I would go get a piece of pizza for us to split and curb our hunger. We were starved. And, pizza is just so good.

I made my way to the food line and all of a sudden the noise seemed to hush. I noticed the middle aged married couple sitting at the tables in the food court, sharing a hot dog with sauerkraut and talking like they were on a first date. The man seemed to have stars in his eyes and the woman laughed and smiled as he spoke.

I noticed the woman who had stepped in to line 3 people behind me who got a text message, gasped, and her head fell into her hands.

I noticed the Mom with a huge cart full of food, a crying baby in a carseat and a screaming toddler pulling at her blouse. Her eyes searched, seeming to look either for help or to see if people were judging her circle of chaos.

I saw the elderly woman, dressed to the nines, wearing leopard print leggings and six inch red sequin stilettos. She also had on a red sweater and red lipstick to match. It was as if she had stepped out of a magazine. She was all alone. I wondered if she was going to see someone, or just enjoyed dressing up.

As I looked around, my heart hurt. So many people, so many stories…

Who would help the Mama? Was the text message girl ok? Was leopard print lady missing someone special?

Of course people hurt at all times of the year, but the holidays can be an even more tough time for so many. It is inevitably a busy season, filled with long lines and backed up traffic and stores running out of the present you need to purchase or the item you need for the party.

People are all just doing the best they can.

I am sure you can relate, you could be dealing with hurt or grief or loss or struggle, and someone will say, “How are you?” And you flash a smile and say “Great! How are you?”

I wonder what it would be like if we all wore signs around our neck with the truths of what we are dealing with… Of how we really felt. Behind Kool aid smiles of cashiers and honking horns from the person who just cut you off you may see signs like:

?“I’m losing my home.”

?“My Mom is sick and this may be the last Christmas I have with her.”

?“My daughter just got diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.”

?“We thought we would have a family by now.”

?“I lost my job and have no money left.”

Remember that behind everyone’s small talk and smiles there is a story and could be hurt as well. So when someone is sharp with you, rude to you, quiet, distant, or rough around the edges just see it as a sign there is something going on and they could really use some grace.

Let’s all be gentle with each other this Christmas.

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