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:
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.