Christmas shopping with a teenaged daughter can be stressful, but it was actually going quite well. The store was filled with the kind of holiday cheer that is entertaining at the beginning of the season. Only a stonyhearted shopper could resist the glitz and glimmer.
Chatting happily about my daughter’s school life, friends, and activities we approached the sales counter and piled up our items to purchase. We looked up to see a glowering clerk. Throughout the entire transaction, she never smiled, acted interested, or even courteous.
I commented as we walked away about her rudeness and lack of Christmas cheer. My daughter quietly asked me, “Mom, have you ever considered she might have had something terrible happen to her today or maybe she doesn’t feel well or maybe she has to work very hard and she’s tired.”
Startled by these comments, I started to ponder. For the next several days, as I went about my holiday preparation, I could not shake the conversation from my consciousness. While I did not consider myself above people in public service, I realized their well being had not particularly been in my stream of consciousness.
It really embarrassed me that it took my thirteen year old daughter to bring this to my attention. Of course the woman may have had something terrible happen to her and of course she was most likely extremely tired.
From that day forward, I determined to be more in tune with those around me, especially people who were working hard to serve the public. My new mantra became “Smile, Smile, Smile.”
Smiles do not cost anything, they are easy to give, and they bring much in return. Someone who is being unpleasant generally responds more readily to a smile than to fault- finding impatience.
It is fun to look people in the eye while smiling warmly at them. Most of the time, the response is positive ~ sometimes a shy smile is given in return and sometimes a broad grin. Whatever the response, it is heart-warming to watch faces change and bodies relax. A momentary kinship is established. We are, after all, human beings inhabiting the same space, endeavoring to make sense of the madness around us.
After all, the Scriptures remind us over and over that God would have us love one another and wants us be kind to one another. The Scriptures also teach us that it is selfish intents and actions that cause strife and wars among us.
One of the best places I have found to try this smiling idea is on the road. As I pull up to a stop light, I look over at the person in the car next to me and smile. It is quite enjoyable to watch them peer at me in confusion and then suddenly smile in return.
Do I always succeed at remembering? I wish I could say yes. When I blow it, the scene is usually memorable, and I get lots of gentle teasing from my even-tempered husband. In fact, he introduced me to the fun of getting tense intense people to laugh. He is a master at it!
Through the years, I have learned that life is a journey. Sometimes it goes well and sometimes it definitely does not. Life is not a sprint but a marathon. Smiles and laughter are the oil that keep the machinery of everyday life from grinding the joy out of things
I will always be grateful that my daughter said what she did that day. During that holiday season, I learned the secret of keeping the spirit of Christmas all the year through . . . . keep on smiling!