The store was bustling with shoppers snatching up last-minute gifts to the sound of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra crooning Christmas songs. The registers were busy, and the clerks even more so. Harried, they dealt with impatient shoppers asking the impossible and pushing for their assumed rights:
“I was here first!”
“Are you sure you don’t have this in another size?”
“I know you said you were out of these, but why can’t you go check in the back … again?”
To be honest, there really didn’t seem to be enough cashiers, or enough associates on the floor. So those who were there were having a hard time keeping up with everyone vying for their attention.
Finally, I made it to the front of the line. Smiling at the cashier as she rang up my purchases, I handed her a carnation from the stash in the tote bag I carried. “Thanks for your help today. I really appreciated your helping me find that sweater earlier. You made my shopping trip that much smoother.” Attached to the flower was a tag that said, “Thanks for being a blessing today. God loves you, and this is a small reminder of that.”
There was no need, and certainly no time, for a long conversation; but none was needed. It was just one small connection, one fleeting, but concrete, way of showing God’s love.
I forget how many flowers I gave away that first time–about eight, I think. Each was given with a smile and some word of encouragement. None was turned away, although a few people did give me odd looks. One younger girl actually laughed and clapped; an older lady looked at me with tears in her eyes–which surprised me, given what a small thing I was doing.
Christmas flowers were one of my traditions for several years. I looked forward to handing them out to various retail associates as I shopped throughout the day.
This year, things are a little different for me. I have a leg injury that’s been keeping me out of the malls; and I can’t handle the scented candles, perfumes and cinnamon-scented pinecones that lurk around every turn. I doubt that I can hand out Christmas flowers this year.
So I thought I’d request a little help. If you plan to go out shopping, and you can get a few flowers, could you please pick up the tradition for me?
Here are the guidelines I follow:
1. I use carnations because they don’t have a strong scent, and they’ll last well.
2. Be sure each flower has a water tube.
3. Don’t try to say much; retail associates don’t have time for that during the holiday rush.
4. Approach with a smile and a word of encouragement.
5. Either in your words or on a tag, let them know that God loves them–this isn’t about us being seen as nice people, but about showing the Lord’s love in a small way.
6. Have fun!
Thanks for your help. Let us know if you plan to help–and afterward, tell us how it turns out!