The True Meaning…

In trying to decide what to write for this week’s blog, I came across a short story that I had cut out from a newspaper many years ago. This clipping and many stories I found across the internet reminded me that the true meaning of the Christmas season (and throughout the year) is the connections we all have to each other. Not to materialistic things or money, but to people. The love and gratitude in our hearts for our shared human existence. My own heart is overflowing with the blessings I have and those I receive each and every day. Enjoy!

The Paper Flowers

In a makeshift vase in my small living room are some paper flowers-obviously homemade. Each time I look at them them reminds me of how very fortunate I am.
It was just before Christmas a year ago when they knocked on my door-a small boy and girl, each clutching a handful of homemade paper flowers. The children were bundled in clothes which looked as if they had had many previous owners. A cold, raw wind was blowing. The noses of the two were red under their faded woolen caps. But it was their eyes that held my attention-pleading eyes. One of them spoke, “Flowers, lady?”
I looked at the “flowers”-soiled, bent and crudely make by little fingers unaccustomed to making such things. I smiled, and saw the immediate look of hurt in the small one’s eyes.   “They’re pretty,” I added quickly. “That’s why I was smiling.”
Another blast of wind whipped around us. “Won’t you come in,” I asked, “and have a cup of hot cocoa?” They looked at one another for a moment and then stepped inside. I brought the cocoa in a pan, gave each a cup and saucer, then poured. They sipped the hot drink silently. And then the little boy spoke, “Lady-are you RICH?”
I had to laugh. “Me? Rich? Heavens, no. Whatever gave you that idea?” He stared down at his cocoa. “Your cups and saucers-they match.” Matching cups and saucers-my man with a good job- a modest home-furniture shabby, but comfortable- food in the refrigerator, I had never before realized how rich I was.
I bought their flowers-all of them, and kissed the two as they left. They never knew how VERY much they had given me. – Ruth A. Austin

I once knew an 86 year-old woman who told me of when she and her siblings also sold paper flowers door-to-door to help the family make ends meet. I was lucky enough to be the recipient of a bouquet of them. She still remembered how to make them. They are a special gift I still treasure! (see picture above)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Heart of Gratitude…

A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which said, ‘I am blind, please help.’ There were only a few coins in the hat.  A man was walking by. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words.He put the sign back so that everyone who walked by would see the new words.
Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy. That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came to see how things were. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, “Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?”
The man said, “I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way.”
I wrote: ‘Today is a beautiful day but I cannot see it.’

-Posted on jyotsna-collectionof short stories.blogspot.com

Both signs told people that the boy was blind. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind. The second sign told people that they were so lucky that they were not blind.
Be thankful for what you have. Let gratitude fill your heart.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I discovered this last story on http://www.MotivateUs.com. The author is unknown but the sentiment touches us all.

The Gold Slippers

It was only four days before Christmas. The spirit of the season hadn’t yet caught up with me, even though cars packed the parking lot of our local discount store.
Inside the store, it was worse. Shopping carts and last minute shoppers jammed the aisles. Why did I come today? I wondered.
My feet ached almost as much as my head. My list contained names of several people who claimed they wanted nothing but I knew their feelings would be hurt if I didn’t buy them anything.
Buying for someone who had everything and deploring the high cost of items, I considered gift-buying anything but fun. Hurriedly, I filled my shopping cart with last minute items and proceeded to the long checkout lines. I picked the shortest but it looked as if it would mean at least a 20 minute wait.
In front of me were 2 small children- a boy of about 5 and a younger girl. The boy wore a ragged coat. Enormously large, tattered tennis shoes jutted far out in front of his too short jeans. He clutched several crumpled dollar bills in his grimy hands. The girl’s clothing resembled her brother’s. Her head was a matted mass of curly hair. Reminders of an evening meal showed on her small face. She carried a beautiful pair of shiny, gold house slippers. As the Christmas music sounded in the store’s stereo system, the girl hummed along, off-key but happily.
When we finally approached the checkout register, the girl carefully placed the shoes on the counter. She treated them as though they were a treasure.
The clerk rang up the bill. “That will be $6.09,” she said. The boy laid his crumpled dollars atop the stand while he searched his pockets. He finally came up with $3.12. “I guess we will have to put them back,” he bravely said.
“We will come back some other time, maybe tomorrow.” With that statement, a soft sob broke from the little girl. “But Jesus would have loved these shoes,” she cried. “Well, we’ll go home and work some more. Don’t cry. We’ll come back,” he said.
Quickly I handed $3.00 to the cashier. These children had waited in line for a long time. And, after all, it was Christmas. Suddenly a pair of arms came around me and a small voice said, “Thank you lady.”
“What did you mean when you said Jesus would like the shoes?” I asked.
The boy answered, “Our mommy is sick and going to heaven. Daddy said she might go before Christmas to be with Jesus.” The girl spoke, “My Sunday school teacher said the streets in heaven are shiny gold, just like these shoes.”
“Won’t mommy be beautiful walking on those streets to match these shoes?”
My eyes flooded as I looked into her tear-streaked face. “Yes” I answered, ” I am sure she will.”
Silently I thanked God for using these children to remind me of the true spirit of giving.” -Author Unknown

It IS better to give than receive. This Christmas season, I challenge you to give a needed gift (or your time) to someone who can help you to appreciate how lucky you really are. Look around your neighborhood or ask someone at the local school, church or shelter. Volunteer at the local soup kitchen. Give from the heart and discover the true meaning of the season!

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