Lessons In A Christmas Shop
There is a little shop I enjoy visiting, especially this time of year.
A Christmas shop is set up in a large room where the Amish women quilt.
Your eye does not know where to look.
Just when you think you have seen it all, there are little touches here and there you missed.
The items are handmade or gently used.
No one would ever know.
Christmas ornaments, mugs, and tins fill the shelves.
Snowmen, reindeer, Santa, and old-fashioned Father Christmas are found there.
Norman Rockwell plates, wrapping paper, and bows are displayed.
I love walking up one aisle and down another as I browse.
I collect old tins and keep some favorite ones under our Christmas tree.
I found a tin with a picture of a Victorian family ice skating on a pond.
I enjoy being in the Christmas shop when little children are there with their mothers.
I love to hear their squeals and laughter as they see all of the Christmas decorations.
I especially love the nativity section.
I love to hear the little children tell the Christmas story as they imagine the figures are talking.
I saw a little girl and her mother as they were walking around.
The mother had given her daughter clear expectations about not touching anything in the shop.
It is difficult for little hands not to touch things when they are told.
This little girl was being very good; her mother’s rules were being obeyed.
Not touching did not mean not talking.
The little girl had an imaginative commentary about almost everything she saw.
Of course, she wanted her mother to be her captive audience.
It was clear that her mother had certain items in mind that she was trying to find.
Oh, Mommy, look at Baby Jesus, she said pointing to a small manger.
Do you think He was cold in that barn? She continued.
I bet the animals smelled funny, she said.
Do you think Baby Jesus had a blanket? She asked.
I heard her mother say, Hmm, in response as she walked around.
It was obvious that the little girl was talking to herself.
Her mother was a bit preoccupied as she tried to shop.
Mommy, do you see this Santa? she asked as her mother walked away.
Look at that snowman; he looks like Frosty, the little girl continued.
There is a Christmas Mouse just like our story, the little girl said.
At that moment, the mother turned around in frustration.
We have to hurry, the mother said, and I am trying to find…her voice trailed off.
Mommy, do you think we could get… but the little girl’s words were cut off.
I told you not to touch anything, the mother said.
But I’m not, the little girl said correctly.
The mother said something else, clearly frustrated because of her to-do list in her hand.
Why are you so mad? The little girl asked innocently.
I’m not mad, the mother said defensively.
I saw it; I saw the metaphorical cup of cold water splash on the mother’s face.
In her innocence, the little girl was her mother’s mirror.
The mother did not like what she saw.
There was some truth to the little girl’s words.
The mother knew her little girl was not entirely wrong.
We were on the same side of the aisle at this point.
The mother looked right at me.
I smiled at her.
She smiled back with the look of someone who just got caught.
I was not her judge or jury.
I was simply there looking for Christmas things as well.
If she had asked me, I would have told her that her little girl never touched a thing.
If she asked me another question, I would have told her that she did sound mad.
There was a list.
There were things to do in a short amount of time.
This time of year, there are so many demands put on us.
However, there was a little girl for whom none of those adult things mattered.
There was a little girl mesmerized by aisles of Christmas decorations.
There was a little girl who saw this place as a mini Christmas wonderland.
At that moment, the mother had forgotten.
She was little once.
She had curiosity as well.
She probably talked as much as her daughter.
She once saw the world with the wonder of a child.
It is easy to forget.
There are lists.
There are so many things to do in a short amount of time.
There are so many demands put on us.
There is a child who is watching.
There is a child who can teach us a thing or two.
There is a child who does not care about our lists.
There is a child who desperately wants us to join them in their wonder.
“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked Him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?” (Matthew 21:16)
I have been that mother.
So have you.
We have all had our lists and our many demands that need our attention.
At the end of the day, the lists will still be there; but the child grows up.
The wonder will be replaced with adult concerns.
The questions and childlike observations will become silent.
We have all been there.
We need to be intentional to lay down our lists, look our children in the eye and really listen.
I saw the mother and her little girl as I was leaving the Christmas shop.
She drew her daughter close and hugged her.
Mommy is not mad, she said holding her daughter’s chin in her hand.
She took her small hand in hers: Show me the snowman that looks like Frosty.
As they walked away together something fell to the ground.
It looked like a list.
I did not tell her.
It did not seem to be that important anymore.