It was late…almost midnight. The madness at the Malls and Department Stores was well under way. People scrambled for bargains, grabbing everything in sight and shoving it into shopping carts.
Beyond the frenzy of shoppers was a panel of electronics. Radios and TV’s were blaring away. News. Sports. Christmas commercials. A kaleidoscope of sights and sounds from around the world. It was madness.
The News isn’t very cheery this Holiday season. But CNN and FOX News were making the most of it….They proclaimed loudly to the heedless frenzy of shoppers:
“Here in California, there is no room for the baby Jesus!” declared CNN. “No room at the Inn…and certainly not at the Park! A nativity scene in Santa Monica has been outlawed in a City Park where it’s been displayed for over 50 years.” A camera zoomed in on the baby Jesus in Santa Monica. He looked sad and fretful….like he was crying.
The rest of the News was no better. There was talk of Fiscal Cliffs, and economic turmoil. FOX News seemed the gloomiest, tonight. It was airing a documentary called: “Countdown to Doomsday: December 21, 2012.”
On other TV screens was News of equal misery. Trouble in the Holy Land. Escalating tensions in the Middle East. According to CNN, the news from Israel was grim, tonight.
“The Middle East is a tinderbox,” said a CNN anchorman. “In Israel, it is 5 o’clock in the morning and a Ceasefire has just been brokered between Israel and Hamas. The world holds its breath as we await the outcome. Will there be Peace?…or World War III?”
I sighed as I headed down the crowded aisles. Is there anything good about Christmas this year? Any sign of love and peace and “goodwill-toward-men”? I saw nothing that looked remotely peaceful or kind. Even the nearby Santa Claus looked depressed. An unjolly fat man who needed liposuction. And what is that glint in Santa’s eye? Is it a twinkle?…or is it a tear?
Santa’s plastic Rudolph seemed miserable, as well. The reindeer’s nose was raw and redder than usual, like he had caught a bad cold——
My dreary thoughts came to an abrupt end. A sudden noise had broken through my consciousness. A roar….or was it a bellow? It was so loud and so close. “AAARRHHHHHAAAaaah!”
I paused. So did everyone else. The crowds froze. What the heck? Has the mayhem from the Middle East invaded America? Has World War lll begun…? Is Doomsday already here?
The sound was monstrous. In all my life, I’d never heard such a racket inside of a store.
I turned a corner and peered through the crowd. At Check-out #3 was a young man—a handicapped individual. He was roaring at the top of his lungs, rocking back and forth. Furious. Hostile.
His caregiver stood beside him. She was a short, stout, motherly woman not over 5 feet tall. She was as calm as the young man was hostile. Unruffled. Unflappable. She soothed him good-naturedly. “Be nice,” she said, patting his hand.
The young man went on roaring and rocking back and forth. We all looked away and shuffled our feet. Everyone was uncomfortable—but not the woman. She was undaunted. Calm. Loving. Persevering.
“There, there!” she said. It’s going to be all right.” She reached out and gave him a hug….this roaring, angry young man who seemed ready to fight the whole world.
The crowd waited, nonplussed…Frozen in the midst of their frenzy.
The roaring had been going on for over a minute, now. An unbearable sound that could be heard throughout the store. But then suddenly, it stopped. Miraculously, the roaring was over.
The woman’s love and patience had calmed the distraught young man. He stood at the check-out counter quietly now. Subdued. Comforted. The caregiver smiled at all of us. “Merry Christmas, everyone…!” she said. We smiled back. “Merry Christmas!”
And so it was….. Here in the midst of Holiday Madness, a woman’s love and patience had won a battle over hostility. She had prevailed over a situation that could have easily spiraled out of control. A woman full of compassion and dignity. Love and kindness and Christmas cheer…!
It was contagious.
The night suddenly seemed less hectic. The air less stifling. We all took a deep breath and relaxed.
I paid for my purchases and headed for the front door. The radios and TV’s were still blaring away, but they seemed a bit more hopeful.
“….It’s a critical moment for the Middle East,” said CNN. “The skies are now quiet in both Gaza and Israel. No more flying rockets or missiles. A fragile ceasefire has just taken hold…each side agreeing to lay down their weapons. The truce seems to be holding.”
I left the crowds behind and headed into the cold night air. The stars above were bright and sparkling. Flawless diamonds against black velvet.
I looked up into the sky and breathed a prayer of thanks.
And I said a prayer for Peace…..