Christmas Cookies Bring Easter Blessings
One winter morning after my run I went to the grocery store. I found what I needed and headed to the shortest checkout line. As I began to place my items on the conveyer belt I noticed the woman ahead of me. I watched as she checked the price of every item that was scanned. I could tell she was taking note and adding up the total. As the cashier scanned the last item and told her the price, the lady exclaimed, "I'm sorry, I will have to take something out. I just don't have enough money." As she looked through her groceries she handed the cashier a box of Christmas cookies. I watched as the cashier took them off her purchase and placed them under the register. As the lady finished paying for her items I could sense her sadness. It was the Christmas season, a time for enjoying treats and giving gifts.
It was in that moment I decided I would buy the cookies for her. Many years ago a kind woman had bought hot chocolate for me in a small cafe in San Francisco. I remembered my happiness and gratitude towards her. Without hesitation, I said to the cashier as she greeted me, "I'd like to buy those Christmas cookies." She looked at me a bit perplexed and pulled them from beneath her register. After she scanned the cookies I quickly took them and ran to the lady who was just heading out. I said to this dear woman, "Merry Christmas! I hope you enjoy these cookies." As she thanked me it was then I realized she spoke with a heavy European accent. She told me she had just moved here from Romania with her family. She was very happy to have the cookies and wanted to thank me by sending a Christmas card. I gave her my address not really expecting to get a card. To my surprise, within a few days I found a card in my mailbox. She thanked me again for the cookies and told me God would bless me for my kindness.
A couple months went by and I received another letter from this sweet woman. She told me she knew I was a giving person and wanted to know if I would be willing to help a few families in Romania. She explained she was in the process of putting together a Easter package and wanted to know if I could help. She included her phone number and invited me to call if interested. Something inside me told me I should call and so I did. I dialed her number and heard her distinct accent as she said hello. She told me there were 4 families very much in need. She said they basically had nothing, and she asked if I could help donate clothes, shoes, tooth brushes and food. She then gave me a list of the ages and gender of the children and adults. Before we hung up we agreed to meet at the local Walmart in a few days.
As I looked over the list I knew I could provide for the girls. Having four girls myself and many bins stored away in closets made it easy to fill her order. However, I only have one son and he was an infant at the time. So I asked many friends with boys who went to church with me if they could help. Each person I called did not hesitate to help and gave generously. Church clothes, play clothes, jackets, sweaters, new socks and underwear all given by my friends to people they never had met and would never meet. It was a very powerful feeling to know that these stay-at-home moms could contribute and have such an impact on these people's lives.
Now that I had all the clothes the last thing on my list was food and toiletries. My good friend happened to be the store manager of a Walmart. I went to him and asked if he could help. He was able to give me a charitable donation which helped provide much of the food. I had asked this woman to meet me and together we shopped for all the items. We loaded up her tiny car with groceries and bags of clothes. She thanked me again and again for taking my time to help her people. I told her what a great experience it had been for me. We parted with smiles and hugs.
A few months went by and I was back at my mailbox. As I opened the mailbox I saw a card with an unusual address and realized it was from Romania. One family had written to tell me thank you and had enclosed pictures. What a tender moment it was to see this family. One of the young girls had a dress on that had been my daughter's Easter dress the year before. I realized then we as women can do much and have the power to do great things. As we are observant and look for ways to serve those around us, we can change lives.
Written By: Wendy Petranek