Thinking Out Loud

December 25, 2015

Christmas in a Small Town

Filed under: Christmas, family — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:58 am

I’ve reblogged this today from Diane Lindstrom at Nice One Nana. Send her some link love by clicking the title below to read at source and leave comments.

Small Town, Big Connection

I couldn’t figure out how to get my [reward card] points at the local gas station pumps so I decided to ask the lady working inside about the procedure. I mean, free groceries are free groceries, right?

The lady who was working behind the counter had very kind eyes and a gentleness in her ways. She greeted me with a smile and as I fished around my purse for my wallet, she asked me, “So, are you ready for Christmas?”

I told her, “I’m ready. These days have been a quiet countdown to Christmas day. I’m not running around at all. Feels good. How about you? You enjoying the season?”

I was really taken back with the woman’s response.

“Usually, I love this time of the year but my daughter’s husband has been mad at me for the past four months and he won’t let my husband and I see our two grand-kids.” I’m just heartbroken about it.”

I was about to express my sadness about her situation but she began to cry and continued to talk.

“Why do people have to win? Why do they have to be stronger and more powerful and more right? Why can’t people just love each other?

I offered the woman a Kleenex and I just stood with her for a few seconds.

Neither of us talked.

I could see that the woman was embarrassed and as she wiped her eyes, she joked, “This is what happens when you come to a small town gas station!”

I smiled and asked her, “Are you and your husband alone on Christmas Day? Would you like to come to our place?”  I also joked back with, ” An invitation for Christmas dinner at a stranger’s house is also what happens when you serve customers at a small town gas station.”

“Oh, you’re so kind but no…we’re not alone. We have nine children and a handful of grand-kids. We’re going to be eating so many turkeys this Christmas, my husband and I are going to start gobbling. I just can’t understand why people don’t choose love. Not just at Christmas. All the time.” 

I nodded. I couldn’t have said it better.

“Thank you for blessing me with your words. I hope you and your son-in-law reconcile.”

She smiled, handed me a candy cane and said, “Merry Christmas.”

I leaned over the counter and gave her a big hug.

“And to you.”

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12.31

Diane Lindstrom lives in a small town in Ontario, Canada and is the author of Sisters in the Son: Reconnecting Older and Younger Women.


December 8, 2012

Our Journey Back in Time

Filed under: Christmas — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:39 am

Christmas Candle

Last night was weird.

We drove along a road beside the lake that seemed to get narrower and narrower. And darker and darker. No lights. No passing cars. Not even those little reflector things. A land that time, and cell phone coverage, had forgotten; remarkable since my wife and I are with separate carriers. We’ve driven this route in daytime at least 50 times, but on this occasion, it seemed like a scene from Jurassic Park.

And then, just as I was about to give up and turn around, we found the recently restored church. We parked our car next to the building up a dirt road where, I swear, once the car headlights went off, you could not see your own hand in front of you.

The church was brightly lit by generator and the occasional candle. There was no heat. The organ was a pump organ which occasionally had a few stuck notes. Cold, hard wooden pews. Photocopied carol sheets with a little flap stapled into a page where a verse had been left out. Did I mention that there was no heat?

And there, in our trip back in time, we joined about 35 people — none of whom we knew — and sang Christmas songs and carols; requests randomly bouncing back and forth from the religious to the ridiculous. With each new song, I could see my breath as I sang.

A break was scheduled in the middle for hot cider and hot chocolate. We didn’t know that. We’d seen the spread on a table at the front when we arrived and had just wandered up and started munching and sipping. Oh well, we had a head start on everyone else.

A few people spoke to us, but even with the commonality of the Christmas songs, we felt like outsiders. Life in a small town, I suppose, or in this case a non-town; a non-village; a barely hamlet. Some of these people actually live in this middle of nowhere. Maybe we’d simply lost points by descending on the snacks prematurely.

The organist let me have a go at a verse of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. My aunt had a pump organ when I was much younger, and I remembered to keep working the pedals. Great memories.

Lots of good singing, but all in all a rather strange night in a surreal setting.

Did I mention there was no heat?

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