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:
Milk
Cheese slices
Baby crackers
Baby food
Diapers
Bologna
Bread
Tomato soup
Perogies
Sour Cream
Mini Bagels
Cream Cheese
Carrots
Apples

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.

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191 Comments on “List of Lost Wishes”

  1. […] Today I have achieved an honour I find more rewarding than the Freshly Pressed designation for my post “List of Lost Wishes.” […]

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  2. […] And yes Prime Rib Soup is now my most popular blog post – easily blowing away my Freshly Pressed post of last December: List of Lost Wishes […]

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  3. […] Number 5: List of Lost Wishes with 133 views. This one had carry-over power from my Freshly Pressed moment of glory at the end of […]

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  4. This is so heart-warming I have chills!

    Like

  5. Reblogged this on the beautiful humbled and commented:
    A beautiful expression of humble selflessness.

    Like

  6. nobin says:

    @merlinspielen Amazing piece of writing….. had the visuals playing right along in my head while reading it. BRAVO.

    Like

  7. Shelley says:

    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 "

    Like

    • 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! :)

      Like

  8. Shelley says:

    <3

    Like

  9. Brother Jon says:

    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.

    Like

  10. 1EarthUnited says:

    Pretty awesome, nice going!

    Like

  11. Wella Maxximum Tonic says:

    Thanks to share nice post.

    Like

  12. Bhee says:

    Reblogged this on bheehappy and commented:
    A genuine act of kindness. Happy hearts in both sides. <3

    Like

  13. Bhee says:

    You didn’t miss an opportunity to help others. :) You have a good heart! <3

    Like

  14. 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.

    Like

    • 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.

      Like

  15. Reblogged this on scattered.intentions and commented:
    it’s really better to give, without expectation..

    Like

  16. Reblogged this on Woman In Thrisis and commented:
    Too lovely not to share with the readers of my blog. I loved it!

    Like

  17. 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.

    Like

  18. kkayser says:

    birthday wishes!!!

    Like

  19. Kookiezquad says:

    Reblogged this on Mah random website >w<.

    Like

  20. What an incredible gift. Thank you so much for sharing. I was having an incredibly bad weekend (Am having one…) and, this truly made me smile.

    Always, Me

    Like

  21. Seyi sandra says:

    What a heart warming story, thanks for sharing

    Like

  22. a real Christmas story! thank you! may your kindness bring you many blessings!!!

    Like

  23. lifeBelle says:

    Reblogged this on Life's Raw Essentials and commented:
    Merlin – thankyou for reminding me what Christmas is all about…amongst all the ‘want’ lists and bustling people, you have taken a moment to help someone.

    Like

  24. lifeBelle says:

    Absolutely beautiful…..thankyou for the reminder to look up and remember those around are people too.

    Like

  25. Reblogged this on toffaayeah and commented:
    amazing

    Like

  26. Dave R says:

    Lovely story of a generous heart in these heartbreaking days.

    Like

  27. bliss steps says:

    ~ God bless your good heart. I am pretty sure you have touched many cold hearts and lost souls out there. Congrats on being fp! Have a lovely xmas! :-)

    Like

  28. ks3nia says:

    I’m always very emotional when I’m tired, so I actually cried a bit.. Such a nice and happy story, I’ll sleep very fine now :-)

    Like

  29. Reblogged this on Totally Inspired Mind and commented:
    It is nice to know I am not the only one counting my pennies at and who gets more joy out of giving than getting.

    Like

  30. 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!

    Like

  31. dianajoy7 says:

    Reblogged this on dianajoy7 and commented:
    This made me cry.

    Like

  32. [...] if you read this far (bless you), check out this amazing story from a blog I came across yesterday, it’s a true depiction of the holiday [...]

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  33. [...] List of Lost Wishes [...]

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  34. 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!”

    Like

  35. Reblogged this on A photo a day by me :) and commented:
    Love this post. So perfect for this time of year.

    Like

  36. Beautiful…..wonderful…..touching….I love it! <3

    Like

  37. One of the most beautifully written pieces that i have ever read.
    Also, congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

    Like

  38. [...] List of Lost Wishes. [...]

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  39. Zen A. says:

    Aww, what a lovely story. Certainly deserves to be Freshly Pressed. Congrats. :)

    Like

  40. cake4thought says:

    what a wonderful, touching story! It’s comforting to know that these acts of kindness do exist in our world today! Thank you very much for sharing and Merry Christmas!

    Like

  41. eof737 says:

    Wonderful post. Congratulations on being FP’d! :-)

    Like

  42. littlewing says:

    This is beautiful.

    Like

  43. Lovely post, lovely act!
    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. And thank you for sharing your story~

    Like

  44. 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!

    Like

  45. Mari says:

    So tugging so warming to ones heart. YOU are so real, so beautiful for this.
    Congratulations on this wonderful post – true meaning of Christmas.

    Like

  46. aww. this story is nice ^_^

    Like

  47. wheresmykid says:

    Thanks. I needed that.

    Like

  48. Redterrain says:

    This is what it’s all about!

    Like

  49. torikar says:

    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.

    Like

  50. Regina says:

    Reblogged this on Hakuna Matata.

    Like

  51. kmbara says:

    I really enjoyed your article! We always seem to forget the small things in life matter the most.

    Like

  52. atothewr says:

    This is an awesome story. Made me smile.

    Like

  53. susielindau says:

    This story gave me shivers! What a beautiful message. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

    Like

  54. Congrats, sir! Well deserved–loved the original post SO MUCH!

    Like

  55. Well done, sir. Bravo!

    Like

  56. Victoria says:

    So BEAUTIFUL! You painted such a lovely visual, too, in my mind’s eye! All the works of a true Merlin. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed, as well!

    Like

  57. Lisa Horvath says:

    With tears in my eyes all I can say is, beautiful!

    Like

  58. Awww You are an awesome person. :) I hope the world is flooded with people like you. You just don’t know how you made my heart smile right now. have a Merry Christmas! :)

    Like

  59. My belief that…you are supposed to be where you are when you get there…is once again quantified.
    Isn’t it lovely…..

    Like

  60. You were obviously destined to perform that random act of kindness.
    A wonderful story.

    Like

  61. 4everloved says:

    Reblogged this on Cloud's Dreams and commented:
    I simply love this. It’s sweet and lovely. Reading it pulls my heartstrings, simple story that shows the heart of giving.

    Like

  62. 4everloved says:

    Really lovely and sweet!I like the style of writing :)

    Like

  63. Ritu KT says:

    What a wonderful post!

    Like

  64. 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.

    Like

    • 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.

      Like

  65. free penny press says:

    Wonderful story..

    Like

  66. This is, without a doubt, the best thing I have ever read. I am crying as I write this–that is what the season is all about in a nutshell. Beautifully written.

    Like

  67. Very very simple, and very very moving. As it happens I’ve done similar myself, but I couldn’t write about it with anything like your grace and simplicity

    Like

    • 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.

      Like

  68. teknoemekli says:

    You gave me a good idea for a new year present to someone who never received a present happy new year

    Like

  69. swalia says:

    a wonderful day of giving…you are very kind!

    Like

  70. Always be thanksful, and life will be greatful.

    Like

  71. 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.

    Like

  72. mayosday says:

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

    Like

  73. unfetteredbs says:

    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….

    Like

  74. Wow! trully inspirational. I want to share this with everyone in my world and encourage the true spirit of Christmas. Reading this post has definitely motivated me to follow your example. Thank you! :)

    Like

  75. I love this!! Thanks for sharing

    Like

  76. 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 :)

    Like

  77. Michele says:

    Thanks for this. It’s a wonderful and heart warming story.

    Like

  78. I hope you have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

    Like

  79. 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.

    Like

  80. Thank you for sharing that sweet story and also for sharing what you had to help someone out. I enjoyed reading this very much

    Like

    • 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…

      Like

  81. There’s nothing left to say…just beautiful!

    Like

  82. 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!

    Like

    • 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!

      Like

  83. rkutchjm says:

    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.
    Rob

    Like

    • 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.

      Like

  84. vyvacious says:

    You are a wonderful person. Thanks so much for the reminder that there are still good people out there.

    Like

    • 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.

      Like

      • vyvacious says:

        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.

        Like

  85. What an amazing story. This truly touched my heart. That woman in the store will be forever grateful for your kindness. Beautiful.

    x melissa little

    Like

  86. lifein56 says:

    This is great. I am currently doing my own challenge for helping others, but it is always nice to be reminded that it doesn’t always have to be recognized.

    Like

  87. Gail says:

    Best thing I’ve read in a long time. And I needed it to give my grinchy, scrooge-like attitude a kick in the pants. Thanks!

    Like

  88. 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!

    Like

    • 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.

      Like

  89. segmation says:

    You are such a great person to not only share this awesome story but to give to this women! Happy Holidays!

    Like

    • 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

      Like

  90. Melanie says:

    This story made my day! Thank you for writing it, and for doing it. I just discovered Freshly Pressed, and am so glad you were chosen. Christmas!

    Like

  91. shibarilover says:

    Hug – melted my heart and made me smile. Have a merry merry yourself!

    Like

  92. Really heartwarming and inspiring – thanks for sharing. It’s so true….it really is better to give.

    Like

  93. Chéri Marie says:

    That was lovely. Thank you for sharing…bless you!
    Merry Christmas!

    Like

  94. Denny says:

    Inspirational! A timely reminder that kindness makes a difference – and your story is being read around the world. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

    • 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!

      Like

  95. dhonour says:

    What a lovely story! Thank you for sharing this.

    Like

  96. Cath says:

    She must have been so surprised and happy. Lovely post.

    Like

  97. uglynovel says:

    I like this :) and the way you wrote it, great blog too.

    Like

  98. This is awesome! Thank you for the reminder : )

    Like

    • 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!

      Like

  99. rohan7things says:

    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!

    Rohan.

    Like

    • 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

      Like

  100. In all the Commercialism that is the holiday season it is wonderful to see that the spirit of this magical season can still be found in the little things! Thank you

    Like

    • I think the spirit of this season is only found in little things – the hundreds of little moments and thoughts and smiles we can share with those around us wherever we find ourselves.

      Like

  101. PaulaB says:

    Yes there is magic afoot in the world…with angels like you to light the way. Tears in my eyes and all, thank you for sharing.

    Like

  102. artminx1 says:

    Simple and refreshing – a wee ray of sunshine to brighten the short day :)

    Like

    • 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

      Like

  103. themonumentaljackass says:

    What a beautiful, beautiful occurrence. Christmas spirit is nothing but a man’s goodness manifest. I salute you, sir :)

    http://themonumentaljackass.wordpress.com/

    Like

  104. Roma says:

    I love the graphic and line that ends this write-up. The crux of happiness — giving! :)
    Much love.

    Like

  105. Lynn Daue says:

    Reblogged this on Lynn Daue and commented:
    What true giving looks like. May we all be so charitable.

    Like

  106. Lynn Daue says:

    Oh, you sweet thing, you! This made me cry. This is true giving, from the heart.

    Like

  107. Le Clown says:

    Merlin,
    Good for you, buddy.
    Le Clown

    Like

  108. Such a lovely thing you did merlin… x

    Like

  109. Suzy Blue says:

    A little birdie tells me you shall be freshly pressed tomorrow :D I’m so pleased! This is a great story and you are a lovely person x

    Like

    • 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!

      Like

  110. cricketmuse says:

    If the WordPress elves don’t freshly press this then I hope my announcing this as THE winner of Christmas spirit story award will suffice.
    Merry merries

    Like

  111. 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!

    Like

  112. foroneplease says:

    Awww…you did such an adorable thing! I love this post. Hugzzzzzz :D
    Merry christmas indeed!

    Like

  113. unfetteredbs says:

    this was magical Stephen. You are wonderful…. so glad you shared this. Good man good soul

    Like

  114. brudberg says:

    Yes, it is good to share

    Like

  115. Stephen–I loved this. Wonderful! You sly, sneaky Santa, you…

    Like

  116. boomiebol says:

    I love it a million times over…made my heart smile….thanks for sharing. Bless your heart Merlin

    Like


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