She stood barefoot in line behind me at Kroger’s late on Christmas Eve afternoon. The two small containers of infant formula she placed on the conveyor belt and the little plastic card she rubbed between her fingers, spoke volumes; as did her loosely fitting, stained, and worn t-shirt with soft pajama type pants. She’d obviously given birth very recently.
I didn’t stare—but it’s amazing how many details peripheral vision will take in.
I’d never seen the young woman before, but impressions that came to mind were “gentle” and “clean”—from her long pale golden red hair all the way down to her bare feet.
The grocery store isn’t my favorite place to be on Christmas Eve—especially since I had so many things left to do at home; but I was out of cayenne pepper, of all things—a key ingredient in the Southwest Mushroom Casserole I’d be serving at the next morning’s brunch.
I’d already made up my mind to be cheerful while I was there. So another late shopper in the spice aisle and I had joked about the possibility of purchasing the giant container of cayenne and putting a cup of it in everyone’s stocking. I’m actually proud to say that probably no one unpacking one of my Christmas stockings would bat an eye. Mason had already told me, the day before, that if I put another giant dill pickle in his stocking, I was wasting my money.
So, in the spirit of joy, I’d added some extra non-essential items to my basket—marshmallows for hot chocolate and cans of real whipping cream for my great-nephews Uncle Dan trick. Those, and the cayenne pepper, made quite a contrast to the small containers of baby formula.
I knew what I wanted to do, but didn’t want to offend. So I very quietly told the checker to add the formula to my bill. She and the young woman both looked at me and I said, “Oh, I don’t want your formula, I just want to pay for it”. The young woman mouthed the words “thank you”.
When I’d finished paying, she said, “Ma’am, may I give you a hug or carry your groceries to your car for you”?
I quickly explained no because I had a sinus infection, was taking antibiotics, and didn’t want her or her baby to get sick. I told her “God bless” and went on.
When I got outside, I knew I needed, and really really wanted, to do more than that. I grabbed some cash from my purse and turned my cart around. She was standing on the sidewalk looking as though she were waiting for someone to drive up. When I handed her the money, she started crying and said, “now you’re going to make me cry”. Which made two of us.
What an amazing God-privilege to be able to give and help someone else. I told April later that day that I was pretty sure I’d met an angel at Kroger’s on Christmas Eve.
Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers,
for some who have done this
have entertained angels without realizing it!