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Sherry Hopkins column

Get the picture? … by Sherry Hopkins

‘Blessed’ greeting turns into first gift of season

“Bah humbug,” I thought this morning as I got ready to go to work. I don’t want to work today.

I don’t want to buy groceries or do laundry or any of the other various and sundry chores on my mental list. But off I go taking the  22-minute drive to the office. I hope there is little traffic and no school buses. The diesel fumes make me nauseous.

Just a literal bundle of joy I am, huh? I wasn’t mad at anyone or troubled by anything. I was just in a funk. Too much sleep, too little sleep, too much reality television, not enough time with dear Don. He’s been working lots of overtime and Saturdays and I do miss him.

But that shouldn’t make me frown so. I look at myself in the rearview mirror and there are lots of little lines between my brows. I feel the tension in my face. Yesterday something didn’t get shipped to us at work overnight as we requested. That sent several folks into a tizzy. I had to fix that problem. And then I got home and in the mail was a dun from someone that I had paid way back in September saying that I didn’t pay them in September. So I had to fix that problem again.

The house is all decorated and gifts are purchased and wrapped so there’s no stress there. But at the office a mouse has the nerve to crawl into the wall space beside MY desk and die. His scent has lingered strongly since before Thanksgiving. I’m sick of smelling dead rat! I tried putting a bowl of pine cleaner beside my desk hoping to mask the odor. Now it smells like dead rat dipped in pine cleaner. I don’t know which is worse.

So today I find myself meandering up and down the aisles of the grocery store. I’m trying to think of something, anything different to buy. Nothing jumps out at me. They don’t have the rolls dear Don loves and they haven’t gotten their shipment of Clementines in yet so I mark those two things off my list while trying to make another mental list to get them later.

As I made my way to my car I feel the tension in my neck and shoulders. I really need to lighten up; I’m awfully tightly wound.

The young freshfaced kid loaded my groceries into the trunk. I watched impatiently to make sure he did it right. As he finished and I turned to get in the car he looked me square in the eye and said, “Have a blessed day ma’am.”

“And you, too, young man,” I replied. He pushed the buggy back to the store and I sat in my car stunned. Tears came to my eyes and soon brimmed over. I sat there in the parking lot and cried, all the tension in my face neck and shoulders being released in those tears.

“Have a blessed day,” he said. He so young, so sweet. He who has never seen me before. He who has just taught me a valuable lesson. I am blessed, beyond measure. I can’t even count the blessings there are so many. At that moment I am so ashamed of myself. I’ve acted rudely and selfishly, thinking only of myself and my time and my way ill tempered and ill mannered.

When did I become so selfish and ungrateful? Did it happen today, yesterday or has it happened over time?  I don’t remember when, but I know that I used to be so full of joy and optimistic. Why am I not now? It’s not my nature to be such a scrooge.

I don’t know the answers to those questions but I intend to find out. I want to be more aware of those around me that might not be as blessed as I am. I want to smile more and reach out more. I want to be more forgiving and loving, less judgmental. And not just because it is the season to do so. I want to do it because Jesus Christ has commanded it of me.

I want to thank the young man who opened my eyes today. You have planted a seed, young man, and I thank you for that. I hope to go forth and plant a few of my own. You have given me a priceless gift today. My first gift of the season. You get the picture.

(Contact Sherry at sherryhopkins@bellsouth.net)