Normally on Wednesdays, I post the funny or cute little things Becca has said. This week, I wanted to share a conversation we had this past weekend that warmed my heart. The perfect conversation to share the day before we celebrate our Savior’s birth.
When headed back to our car at the Farmer’s Market Saturday morning, we encountered several nice folks who commented to Becca on how cute she looked. She’d grin and say “Merry Christmas” to each of them. She did look especially adorable in her bouncy ponytail and her big puffy burgundy pink coat and brightly flashing pink and white Minnie Mouse tennis shoes.
But as we turned a corner, I saw someone we couldn’t just walk by. He was an older gentleman, with a long scruffy white beard. His belly had the rounded sagginess of hunger, not of too many Christmas cookies consumed. He was far from Santa Claus, but had his life gone differently, he could have been Santa for the company Christmas party, or for his grandkids. No, instead this old guy was sitting on the metal chair on the outskirts of the band in his floppy dirty shorts and a long sleeved tshirt with holes. His shoes had seen many long hours of walking, and his prosthetic leg was well worn and beaten. He looked desperately cold, as the wind whipped between the buildings and the leaves swirled around him.
We couldn’t just walk right by him. My heart immediately ached for him. He wasn’t begging, just sitting in the chair listening to the music. I looked in our bag, surveying the goods we’d just received, and I stopped Becca. I told her- “You see that man sitting over there? We’re gonna give him some of our cherry tomatoes.” She perked up and said, “Can I give them to him?” I told her, “No, I’ll hand them to him. You hold my hand still, ok? He’s a stranger, so let Mommy talk to him.” She said, “ok.” And we walked up.
I said, “Sir, we’d like to give you a couple of these fresh juicy tomatoes we just bought, if you’d like to have them.” He replied, “oh thank you very much, ma’am!” And took off his partially intact glove to reveal a horribly unmanicured hand. I placed the three largest cherry tomatoes in his hand and said, “Merry Christmas!” He smiled, his teeth telling another sad story of a life gone terribly wrong, and he said, “Thank you, ma’am! Merry Christmas.”
As we walked toward our car, Becca was silent for a couple of long minutes. I said, “That man probably hadn’t had fresh healthy vegetables like that in a long time. I’m glad we could share some of our tomatoes with him.” She was quiet. Then she spoke. “Mommy, that man doesn’t have a coat. I think he’s probly very cold.” “Yes baby, he probably is.” “We don’t have a coat we can give him, do we?” “No, baby, we don’t.” We got into the car, and she was very quiet.
She has recently started understanding something of the concept that God keeps us in his hands, because she frequently will say things like what she said as we drove away: “God will hold him and keep him warm, right, Mommy?” “Yes, sweetheart, I’m sure He will.”
Long minutes and several Christmas songs on the stereo passed before she spoke again. “I hope he likes tomatoes. They are too squirty for me.”
There’s my girl. Always thinking. Sometimes hours or even days later still reflecting on the same topic. I feel sure we haven’t heard the last of her thoughts about the would-be Santa and those three squirty tomatoes.
God bless her sweet little heart for caring so much. As a mom, it makes my heart so warm and fuzzy inside. May we as parents never hesitate to take those moments to teach our children by our actions how to care for God’s creatures- big and small. This Christmas, I’ll be thinking about that man, and praying that God brings someone his way who can give him some better clothes, and that as Becca said, God will hold him close and keep him warm.