List of Lost Wishes

Christmas 2012

As I was walking to the grocery store, the wind blew a bright pink slip of paper against my leg. The paper clung to me, begging me to pick it up and see the secrets it held. It was crumpled and damp from the snow. And not just pink – the edges were graced with green and white flowers. And black graceful words inked on the white lines. A grocery list fallen from a pocket.

The list was simple:
Cheese slices
Baby crackers
Baby food
Tomato soup
Sour Cream
Mini Bagels
Cream Cheese

A rather basic list telling a simple ordinary story. A mother with an infant. Most likely a young woman from the style of notepaper and the fanciful doodle of hearts and flowers. On the back some more words:

‘Check bank account – see if enough for shampoo? Bottle of wine? Candle? Call Brian invite over to watch movie.’

Then a doodle of a little smiley face. And a phone number – most likely Brian’s.

Then written and underlined: Maybe buy winning lottery ticket and change my world! HA!

Not sure why – but I placed the lost list in my wallet.

By this time I had reached the grocery store. Just inside the door was a young woman with a stroller and a sleeping infant. She seemed frazzled. And she was searching through her pockets and her bags. On a whim I said, “You look like you lost something.”

She sighed and gave a half-smile. “Yeah my grocery list. And my brain.” Her lovely green eyes tired and sad – encircled with dark rings of fatigue.

I chuckled saying, “Looking after a baby will do that to anyone. Glad mine are grown. I think I may have your list – found it in the snow.”

She bounced as I pulled out the pink notepaper. “Yes that is it! Thank you!” Her fingers touched mine as she took the paper – and melted my heart.

“Oh and this was also on the ground – it must be yours.” She stared at the twenty-dollar bill in my hand and shook her head. “No sir, I didn’t have any money to lose.”

“Then it is destined for you. Someone lost it and you will make better use of it then I ever will.” I pressed it into her hand, “Have a Merry Christmas” and walked away. From behind me I heard, “Thank you. Thank you.”

As I was leaving, I saw her at the check-out and could see she had bought extra items for her child. She paused at the wine display looking at a bottle of white. She glanced into her purse, and then walked out of the store.

I bought the bottle of wine and went outside. She was organizing her purchases in the stroller basket, when she saw me. She gave me a big smile, “Thanks again!”

“No problem,” I said. “How old is your little one? May I see?”

She hesitated. “Sure.” she said . “She is 7-months.” She unzipped the cover and I peeked inside.

“She is lovely!” I kicked over one of my bags sending a can rolling. The young woman skipped after it and I slipped the bottle of wine underneath with her other groceries.

I took the can from her, and she zipped the cover again over the sleeping child.

“Have a lovely evening!” I called as I walked away – content to have rediscovered the real purpose of this time of year: to share without expectation.

It really is better to give.

192 thoughts on “List of Lost Wishes

  1. Pingback: Achieved: My 15 Seconds of Fame | merlinspielen

  2. Pingback: Blogging: Back to Reality | merlinspielen

  3. Pingback: 2013 in review: My Greatest Hits! | merlinspielen

  4. As I loved this post, I shared it with others. Here is one of my gf’s replies….
    “Oh, my… that is a wonderful share. To Merlin: from mothers with small infants everywhere, thank you. <3 "


    • Thank you so much for sharing those kind words. When I wrote this post I was more interested in just the way random events clicked to allow me the opportunity to do one small act of kindness. My wee little post seems to have filled a need for a bit of “happy news” in a world where it is so easy to end up awfully sad reading about the terribly bad and the horribly mad.
      I think I am in training to be a grandpa one day – but not any day soon! :)


  5. This is pretty amazing. Right time, right place? Yep. You were meant to run into that young lady I think, We need more stories like this. They happen way more often then they are told.


  6. This makes my heart sing with joy!! This is how we are supposed to live life. You did a great thing. You really gave someone something that is so important. It wasn’t even a big thing. Just something little. But sometimes it’s those little things that help us continue on and not give up. Thank you for being a special person. A person who has open eyes and an open heart.


    • Thank you for your kind words. I don’t think I did a great thing at all – just did what seemed necessary in this one instance. I am certain I have missed many other opportunities to do the right thing because I was busy inside my own head. I think most people when they really see an opportunity to reach out and help will do so. The trick is in the seeing.


  7. Beautiful story! Thank you for sharing it and brightening my day. I am reblogging this which I don’t often do… but it is too lovely NOT to share. Besides, people need to read a happy story after the awful events of last Friday and the weekend.


  8. Wow….what a touching post. Thanks for sharing. I know you didn’t do these kind things for recognition, but seriously, you are a wonderful person. That woman will be reliving and retelling that story for her whole life. Amazingly generous people are rare these days, thank you for being one of them. What a blessing. Christmas is about giving because we were given the ultimate gift centuries ago. Although it is probably good that you didn’t give that woman a baby…she probably wouldn’t have appreciated that. haha Great post, and congrats on it being Freshly Pressed, you deserve it. :) Merry Christmas!


  9. Pingback: And Exhale? | quinoa, kale & exhale

  10. Pingback: merlinspielen

  11. Such a sweet, lovely story. Seems like a sort-of fairy-tale. Except that here we have the magic of kindness, not the magic of evil witches and helpful sorcerers. Are you sure you’re real and not from the land of Fairies and Magic? Perhaps you were exiled and stripped of your magical abilities thus found a way into our world form where all magic has leeched out, so you’d fit in perfectly. So why were you exiled? Was it because you found out the Queen’s secret that she is actually a Jonas Brothers fan and feared that you might tell her loyal subjects who are hard-core fans of Guns n Roses and who would then rise up against her in before she could apologize and say,”That was in my pre-teen years!”


  12. Pingback: List of Lost Wishes |

  13. Wow – what a precious story. It brought a tear to my eye.

    A reminder of the little things we can do everyday to brighten up someone else’s world.

    Congratulations on being freshly pressed – you deserve it!


  14. Tears in my eyes reading this. You will have a lovely Christmas yourself this year, and I will find a way to make someone else’s Christmas memorable in some small way too. Thank You.


  15. Awesome. What are the chances you’d get hit in the leg with an opportunity to give so much? Another good point; you actually learned so much from a pink shopping list.
    She will always remember your kindness and giving spirit – a very good chance that if/when the time comes for her, she will not only do the same but will teach those very qualities to her baby. So, the random act of giving (a $20 bill and a bottle of wine) goes a very long way.
    Peace, Love and Santa forever.


    • I think even more – what are the chances I would actually wake up and pay attention to the opportunity? Even when we are passing strangers it turns out we are all connected if we allow ourselves to see.


    • I think the random act of kindness happens much more often then we all think it does. We get so focused on the sad and the bad that we overlook that fact that most people are kind and good and willing to lend a hand when they see a need.


  16. This was amazing! I only began blogging a couple of weeks ago out of necessity for a new product I have on the market. A subject I know nothing about and this is my very first blog that I read randomly that no one sent me too. If all blogs were like this, I’d be addicted! I most definitely have a lot to learn. P.S. What a great way to start my day! Going shopping with my 2 oldest children today and NOW…. I am in the Christmas spirit. Thank you again.


  17. So lovely that i’m inspired to write a seemingly ordinary story looking out for great details. God bless and remember you for good.


  18. Reblogged this on UnfetteredBS and commented:
    My friend Stephen was Freshly Pressed for this wonderful post. Give this a read– you won’t be sorry. Stephen is a gem and this post reflects that….


  19. Pingback: Share without expectations | Insane Black Swan

  20. Pingback: The Next Days of Kindness | The Random Act of Kindness

  21. This is beautiful and it really made me smile. Thank you so much for sharing. Your writing about this lovely incident glorifies the true spirit of Christmas: giving and sharing and also bringing light into others’ lives. Love it :)


  22. I know what you mean. I at times get oblivious to what is going on around me, like the other day when I was at the grocery store in a hurry. Some times I do get wrapped up in myself which is not good, but God is working on my heart to be less selfish and more giving.


    • You are welcome – and thank you for reading. I commented earlier that in some ways it was like being in a dream – the sequence of events driving themselves. So while I lived the events I am not sure I can take conscious credit for anything. I am sure if I had been my usual logical and objective computer guy self I would have just done my usual oblivious to the world thing…


  23. LOVED this. I just started making a conscious choice to do random acts of kindness every day, and would love to link to this for inspiration for others (if that is okay with you… not that anyone is reading mine yet)! You have a big heart, thanks for sharing this!


    • Please do link away – and really until this one post was freshly pressed I had very few regular readers.
      Thank you for your kind words and for reading. Best wishes in your mission of kindness – I can tell you this one spontaneous act has made my own Christmas so much happier!


  24. You brought tears to my eyes. Stephen, it was so well written. I am in awe of your talent. You brought me to an even higher AWE with what gift(s) your bestowed on this woman. I appreciate what you do to make us a better species. God bless you buddy.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Stephen.


    • Thank you Rob for your kind words on my writing. I must confess I don’t think I do make us a better species – we humans just all forget that we are mostly better than the sad and the bad and the tragic we read and see on the news. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year back at ya – enjoy the world and the people around you.


    • There are mostly good people out there in the world. They just quietly go about their lives doing what needs to be done. And that is why the bad ones stand out so darkly against that bright background light of the goodness that fills the world.


      • That’s very true. I suppose it’s just discouraging sometimes when you feel like you’re one of the only people trying to help so it’s definitely to see others who care as well.


  25. Stephen, this made me cry. You are like a guardian angel. You’re right, it is better to give. A small deed can mean everything to someone. How very kind of you. Congrats on the Freshly Pressed! Your story deserves to be shared!


    • Oh you are much too kind with your praise. Really it was a series of events that just fell together and I was a passenger in the synchronicity of happenings – and now I am glad it is bringing joy to others that read my post! Thank you for reading and commenting over the past while – you and the few other regulars have kept me writing.


    • Not sure I am great in any way – I have probably more often missed and ignored opportunities to be charitable. This time I was moved to act – a small thing that helped one person for one moment. I do hope it made her December a little brighter


    • Sometimes we just need to follow the random threads that pass out way and let things happen. Honestly I just had so much fun being spontaneous – I’ll have to try and keep that spark going!


    • All around us there is so much wanting – that sometimes we overlook those that simply need. I am glad I could make a small difference – I just need to remember to do that more often!


  26. Really lovely post! What a crazy chain of events, very movie-ish :) Bit more of this kind of behavior all year round would no go amiss :)

    Thanks for sharing!



    • It was rather odd – the way the note stuck to my leg as I walked was the first bit of craziness. When I read her line: “Maybe buy winning lottery ticket and change my world! HA!” I just had to keep the note – something so compelling about that line


    • There can never be enough kindness in the world – I am glad that for a moment I could just let myself go with the flow and do what seemed right without over-thinking things. In the end it was quite simple really, and in return I have gotten more positive energy out of this then times when I planned to be magnanimous. This one little thing is probably one of the few honestly kind things I have ever done. Maybe that is a gift of getting older – we stop looking for personal benefit and just do what is right. Only took me 6 decades to catch on :D


    • Really and truly? Now I gotta go watch my email! Holy smokes now that is unexpected. And thank you Suzy Blue for sending the tweet to the freshly pressed watchers. I saw you had “mentioned” me via twitter and thought “yeah right…”

      You are awesomeness!


  27. I really like this. it was not only a GREAT story but it was so well written. I love doing things like this. I have to try the cash when I’m older and have more resources. You have a new subscriber!


Shall we have a conversation?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s