I received this unique Christmas tree pin as a gift this year from my daughter and her boyfriend. When I unwrapped it, I loved it immediately. The colors…the sparkle…the shapes and textures. But the sweetest part of the jewel arrived when they announced, “This gift comes with a story!”
They found the pin in a store at the mall, but didn’t buy it right away. Instead, they walked away to see what might be in several other shops before deciding to return to the first store for this special Christmas tree. When they looked for the blue green tree in the display it was not there, so they asked the clerk if she had more. They described this special pin in detail, and the sales clerk knew exactly which one they wanted, but regretfully the pin had been sold a few minutes earlier.
As disappointment settled over my twenty-something daughter and her boyfriend, a middle-aged lady carrying several shopping bags approached them. She didn’t work for the store, but had been listening their conversation. She asked if they were the ones looking for the Christmas tree pin, and when they nodded, she opened a small bag. “Is this the one you were hoping to buy?” “Yes! That’s the one!”
And at that moment, the woman handed the pin to my daughter saying, “Here…take it. I want you to have it.”
“Really? Are you sure? We’ll pay you for it!”
“Merry Christmas! Take the pin, it’s yours!”
“Let me give you a hug!” My delighted daughter gave this generous, kind lady a big hug…and after a minute the woman laughed, “Go on now!”
As my daughter’s story unfolded, her boyfriend’s sparkling eyes told me that the experience of this random act of kindness had given precious gifts to every one of us. This young couple had received the gift of disappointment transformed to joy. The lady who gave up her pin received the joy of sacrificing to help someone else. And I received the precious pin, with all the joys attached to its history…and certainty that every time I wear my blue-green Christmas tree pin we will all be reminded of unexpected kindness from a stranger.
This year I needed that reminder more than any other year. Our family has suffered heartache in the last several months that I can only describe as devastating. Misunderstandings and miscommunications causing anger, inaccurate perceptions leading to hurtful actions, unfathomable interruption of close relationships that had seemed unshakeable for a lifetime. The story of this Christmas pin seemed like a sign to me that anything might be possible…anger could change to understanding and forgiveness…love could return again at an unexpected moment.
For the rest of Christmas Day, I pondered the idea that somehow the kindness of this woman might be embedded in the pin, and the sparkling light from each stone was streaming love into our home and family. The heaviness of my sadness lifted for just a little while and I enjoyed telephone conversations with friends and family across the country that afternoon.
I had just finished a long-awaited conversation with my brother when I noticed my wedding ring. The diamond wedding ring that has been on my finger for nearly 32 years had a gaping hole in the setting. Sharp, ugly prongs were there instead of a smooth, deep sparkling stone. We all searched for the tiny oval diamond…surely it was in the chair where I had spent much of the afternoon…or on the rug…or near the place where we had opened our gifts.
The ring without its familiar stone reminded me of our incomplete family Christmas…. the symbol of eternal love but with something missing that cannot be found…and the inability to change the situation as much as we wish we could, at least for today. Christmas Day 2013 will hold these memories: a lost stone…and dear ones missing from our family celebration, the loss of special memories we might have made together.
Today, on the day after Christmas, we put a new bag in the vacuum cleaner before we started our search for the missing diamond, hoping that the tiny stone might turn up along with dust and dirt. We turned the chair upside down, wishing to see the stone fall out of the cushion. It seemed that the diamond was truly lost and we would never find it. Late in the afternoon, as I was distracting myself with work in the office, our friend Lucy appeared in the doorway. “I have something for you!” And there it was…the tiny diamond from my wedding ring…she had found it wedged in the sink in a corner next to the rubber mat. It had been there in the kitchen, in the heart of our home, just out of sight.
The diamond now has a small chip in it…so the indestructible stone will never be exactly the same…but we can remount it into the old setting or design a new setting with additional stones. Perhaps now is the time to make some changes to the ring, just as our lives have changed since our wedding day almost 32 years ago.
I’m so very grateful to the woman in the mall whose generosity and kindness made such a difference for this Christmas Day, and whose story will be remembered in years to come. I am relieved, knowing that the lost stone is found and can be put back into my wedding ring. I pray that the Spirit of Love will soon bring healing to all who are hurting. May generosity, kindness, and forgiveness bring reconciliation to our world so that loving relationships can be restored to all families.