Let’s face facts. It is easy to be a skeptic. After-all, look at the world we live in. The nightly news is littered with one bad news story after another and sometimes it seems as though we have no hope. This year in particular, we have been divided more than ever, drawing the line in the sand by defining ourselves by our differences and not by the things we have in common. But, I am here to tell you that it does not have to be that way.  

It was Christmas Eve and my youngest daughter, Carmen, was on a mission to find a gift for her roommate. She realized she had more to buy than she thought, as the gifts she bought for her brother, sister-in-law and their new baby were all accidentally thrown away when she cleaned her car out.  

She was upset and frustrated because here it was the Eve of Christmas and she still had so much to do and, to add insult to injury, she had very little money to work with. After all, she already spent her Christmas budget on the missing gifts.   

We drove around for a minute discussing her plan of action. She knew what her roommate wanted so we set out to find that first.  The problem with that was her roommate wanted a set of beverage coasters and my daughter had already exhausted every big box store she could think of to find them, to no avail.  

As we drove through our quiet town and down Main Street, I suggested that we go to a local shop. This store, I explained, has some unusual things and we just might get lucky. My daughter was already feeling defeated and half-heartedly agreed to stop at the store.

She was in such a negative mood and so sure that this cute little shop would not have what she wanted that she left her purse in the car.  

As we were about to enter the shop, a friend of mine was exiting and, with her bag in hand, she hugged me and said, “I am last minute shopping.”   “Us too!” I exclaimed. She then asked what we were looking for. Carmen told her she was on a mission to find coasters for her roommate. “Oh, she will have them,” said my friend. A small smile of hope passed over Carmen’s face as we entered the shop. 

Upon entering, we were greeted by the owner of the shop who immediately asked us what we were looking for. We quickly told her and she walked us to her coaster selection. That is right- she had a whole selection of coasters to choose from. After weeks of looking, Carmen was now faced with the hard decision of which ones to buy.  

She made her selection and walked out to the car to get her purse as the owner wrapped the coasters up in a nice pretty box. Then I suggested to my daughter that while we were in the shop she look for a little something to replace the gifts she lost.  

The shop owner took us around the store again asking us questions about what kind of gift Carmen wanted to get for her brother and sister-in-law. As we walked around looking at some wonderful items, Carmen shared with the shop owner the gifts that she had already bought but accidentally threw out. She also expressed that as wonderful and beautiful the things in her shop were, she really only had $20 to spend. We looked for something that might suffice but I could tell that my daughter was back to feeling defeated. 

“I hate Christmas!” she exclaimed to me as we were getting ready to leave.  

All of a sudden, the shop owner said, “Wait! I want to give you this so you have something to give your family.”  

In her hand was a beautiful wood-wick candle in a crystal container. “It is evergreen scented,” said the shop owner. “It is my favorite.”  

As she handed the candle to my daughter, I saw all the anxiety she had over buying gifts leave her body. Carmen was stunned and left almost speechless. She thanked the shop owner and when we got to the car, we shed a tear of thanks as we discussed how amazing a gesture it was. 

This is a true story and it happened here on Main Street in our little town but I am sure stories like this happen everyday all across our wonderful country.

You most likely won’t hear of them happening at the big multi-million dollar chain stores, but, the small Mom and Pop stores are still places that can make you feel special.  

After all, it is the people that make this country great. 

Sharon O’neal of Richland Creek Gifts didn’t know who my daughter voted for or what her politics are. She didn’t care what her occupation is or whether or not she is single or married, and she never asked what church my daughter attends. None of that mattered. Right then and right there nothing divided them. 

Mathew 5:16  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Sharon let her light shine and by doing so, she gave the Christmas Spirit back to my daughter. 

My wish is that in the New Year, we let nothing divide us and we shed our light unto the world. 

Personally, I find it ironic that Sharon gave my daughter a candle but, then again, Life is Mysterious.

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