As I was walking into the mall a car had stopped in the aisle in front of a parking lot row. Iím not sure if they were waiting for a spot to open up or dropping someone off, but a car behind them impatiently drove around and honked their horn. The stopped car honked back and then the passing car honked again. I found myself wondering to the honker where is your Christmas spirit. Then I thought about it, who do I know that has the Christmas spirit and what is the Christmas spirit?
Who did I know that had the Christmas spirit? My cousin Vera Woods came to mind. Technically Vera is my husband Mauriceís cousin but I loved her and count her as mine. My first memory of Vera was when Maurice and I visited her in East St. Louis. This must have been around 25 years ago because we had no kids and I wasnít pregnant at the time. Maurice decided to drive over and visit Vera and I believe this is the first time that we met. She welcomed us into her home and made us hot tea. I recall her pulling out cloth napkins stating that it was good for the environment. It was also good for her pocketbook and Vera knew how to stretch a dollar. Vera had a way of stopping everything and actually paying attention to you. Of course I remember her smile and her laugh but mostly I remember that no matter where she was or what situations she faced personally, she would give you her undivided attention. I donít know how to explain it but you could feel that she loved you.
When we moved into our first house Vera gave me an angel ornament and every year as I decorate the tree I think of Vera. If there were a person who embodied the Christmas spirit year around it was Vera. She encouraged Maurice and me in our business endeavors. It was Vera who taught me to delegate observing that I was trying to do it all. She in a nice way reprimanded me saying that I should hire someone to clean my house so that I could help another woman earn a living. At a time when I thought I do it all. She dreamed big with us, supported us and was proud of us. In my opinion God called Vera home way too soon but her memory and the way she welcomed me into the family was huge. So back to the Christmas spirit, what was so special about Vera you may be wondering and hereís what it is. Time. She took the time to listen. She took the time to care. Funny thing is she had taught Maurice Sunday school in his youth and asked the class to complete a questionnaire filling in blanks with things like what kind of car they would be driving and what they type of career they would have when they were 35 years old. Then around twenty years later she mailed that to Maurice. Vera took the time to make a difference.
Now where am I going with all this? You remember the impatient car honker? Well, maybe they had never been blessed with the love of someone like Vera. It could be that they are caught up in a frenzy of chasing everything that is empty. Perhaps nobody stopped and paid attention to them. Here is the exciting part, we can make a difference. Itís very simple all it involves is slowing down and paying attention. Vera cared about me. It cost her nothing materially but it did take time and emotion. We have a little time left before Christmas and that gives us many opportunities to stop and focus on the people we love. The gifts, the decorations, the perfect food, the cute Christmas cookies arenít what makes the Christmas spirit, itís the love and the time spent with the ones you love is. As we fast forward to Christmas we have the opportunity to share the Christmas spirit, to show people that we care, that they are important to us, but only if we stop and take the time to let people know that they matter. Who is important to you? Have you let them know? Today would be a great day to do that.