My mom is a trip. She is fierce, irreverent, and has a deliciously dark sense of humor. But there's also this wonderful innocence about her. She sees the world as inherently magic.
Margaret sees miracles all around her, all the time. And for her, the Miracle Olympics happen during the Holidays. In fact, since I was a child, she would say, “Now keep your eyes peeled! You might see a Christmas miracle!” At which point I would roll my eyes at her, and keep moving.
But there I was, at Target at 8:15am Monday morning, and in a fairly grizzly mood. I hate shopping where large groups of people are gathered. Blessedly, I was treated to a near empty parking lot given the early hour. I finished my shopping in record time, threw it all into the car, and shoved my cart into the empty parking space beside me, where there was another abandoned cart. I mentally girded my loins, knowing that Costco was up next. Costco is where my normally positive outlook goes to die.
As I’m starting my car to leave the near empty Target lot, an elderly woman with very organized, short grey hair raps on my window with her bony knuckles and says,
“Did you do this? Did you leave your cart in this space?”
“Yes, I did.” I opened the door and dragged myself out to move the cart.
“Because you know you’re blocking this spot, and people need this spot,” she said, as if I wasn’t already keenly aware of why it is problematic to leave your cart in an open space.
“You are absolutely right,” I said without smiling.
I was annoyed with her for interrupting my internal dialogue about how much I hate going to Costco, but I also felt ashamed for violating such an important rule of shopping— don’t block a prime parking spot. I mean, we hate people that pull that crap right? I was pulling that crap. And this little old lady was calling me out on it.
So off she goes, huffy in her pastel nylon sweatsuit and her shopping list clutched in her left hand, and me, all judgy and cross in my (notgunna)workout clothes with my iPhone glued to my right hand.
Just as I’m about to pull out of my space, I look down and notice a check on the ground right about where our little exchange took place. I looked closer and could see the tremulous writing style that I associate with grandparents. The check was written out to an apartment complex nearby and was beginning to get a little damp on the wet asphalt.
I turned off the car, grabbed the check off the ground, and ran into Target to chase down my parking lot BFF.
She was at the front desk returning something, and as soon as she saw me, her face looked confused and a little frightened. I showed her the check, and before I could finish my sentence, she threw her arms around me and hugged me so tightly, you would think I'd just come back from a tour of duty in Kabul. I said in her ear, mid-embrace, “I guess we were meant to find each other today!”
She was teary with gratitude. And frankly, so was I. She got her rent check, and I got to feel like a Nice Person after feeling like an asshole who blocks a prime parking spot with my empty cart.
But it was more than that. Mid-hug I felt such a deep sense of joy, a sense of real honest connection— soul to soul— in the middle of Target. It made me feel human, in the best sense of the word. It made me feel useful, and of service. Such an outpouring of gratitude even from such a small act filled me with happiness. That woman's hug will power me through my darkest suburban holiday hours of Christmas wrapping and dealing with that *&^% Elf on the Shelf.
So of course, I immediately called my mom and told her the story of my First Christmas Miracle of 2014. She said, “You see? In this crazy old world of heartache and cruelty, you have to notice these moments of love and kindness. I’m sure these miracles play out all year round, but they seem to be more abundant this time of year. It is what keeps us from completely giving into the despair of the evening news.” (Yes, she actually talks like that in casual conversation. No joke.)
So my friends, let’s all keep our eyes peeled. Let’s celebrate our tiny moments of connection and kindness. Maybe Marg is right: miracles just might be everywhere.