“Peace on earth. Good will,” they say.
The Hallmark movies end that way.
But as for me, and at my house,
The creatures stir and we might have a mouse.
The stockings need hung and the cookies need baked.
Company’s coming. I’ve got beds to make.
The washing machine chose this season to die.
I forgot the pecans for Dad’s favorite pie.
The children are fighting. They don’t deserve gifts.
I should take it all back and not care who gets miffed.
I’m tired of hearing the same Christmas songs
About Santa and reindeer and bells that ding-dong.
I’d rather be taking a long winter’s nap,
But I’ve got to keep knitting this red and green cap.
I plan. I work hard for our holiday cheer,
But it’s wearing me down, year after year.
While others are laughing and merry and bright
I am sad, quite depressed, on this long winter’s night.
There’s got to be more than gifts, food and trees.
I wonder if something is wrong – with just me.
I would love to have quiet and time for myself.
I would love a retreat with a personal elf?
But the budget is busted. There’ll be no getaway.
I’m stuck in this house with bills that need paid.
Then out on the lawn I hear a strange clatter.
I spring to the door to see what is the matter.
“I’ll shovel your walk ma’am, for twenty-five dollars?”
The man is disheveled. His coat has no collar.
His hands are all red and cracked from the cold,
He sniffles and coughs like a virus took hold.
I step back not wanting to get myself sick.
“No, thank you,” I say rather rudely and quick.
He turns. Not a word. I feel guilty for sure.
But I’ve got my own troubles. I can’t be his cure.
I return to my knitting and cup of hot tea.
If he’s caused a missed stich, it will just have to be.
There’s the church Christmas program and that story to tell.
I’ll be so embarrassed if that doesn’t go well.
There are presents to wrap and a message to post.
I’m hoping that Fed Ex brings what I want most.
Is it too much to ask for new pots and new pans?
How many years I have cooked for that man?
My phone does a dance on the table with glee.
“Scam likely,” it says. Wish they’d leave me be.
Then what to my wondering eyes does appear?
But that man with his shovel. Had I not said it clear?
He is scraping away at my pile of snow fall.
He’s fast and effective. He’s smiling. What gall!
He won’t get a dollar. I spent my last cash.
Except for the bills that I hide in my stash.
I yank on the yarn and my knitting looks bad.
I lock my jaw closed. I am livid. I’m mad.
Let him shovel my walk. Let him clean it off fine.
He’ll come back to my door, but he won’t get a dime!
I’m sorry life dealt him a hard circumstance,
And maybe he’s working his very last chance.
I have a good heart. I don’t mean to be cruel.
But I’m nobody’s patsy. I’m nobody’s fool.
I stew in frustration, yet sense God at work.
Today’s not the day, but this deed I can’t shirk.
“So what do I do, Lord? What if this guy’s a thief?
Or an awful abuser who brings horrible grief?
Don’t ask me to welcome him into my home.
My rugs have been cleaned and my hair is uncombed.
I could write him a check, but then he’d know my name.
I’ll give extra next Sunday—if that’s all the same.
I will pray for him. Yes! What a good Christian does.
I will pray that he finds some warm socks and some gloves.
I will pray for his belly to be filled with good food.
And I’ll ask all my friends to pray for him too.”
My sidewalk and driveway cleared lickety split.
While I sat on my fanny . . . only bothered a bit.
He carries his shovel and crosses the street.
He turns to admire. Work. Thorough and neat.
Then he catches a glimpse of me pulling the curtain.
His lips move, “Merry Christmas.” Then he waves it for certain.
I had him all wrong. My attitude stank.
My lofty ideals in that moment lost rank.
I’m sorry, but sorry won’t cover my shame.
I had passed on my turn to do good in Christ’s name.
Forgive me, Lord. I took the wrong stance.
I’ll return him the favor if you’ll give me a chance.
I gave a quick look through my basket of knitting,
For a hat and a scarf to warm him and fit him.
I pulled from the closet a pair of men’s gloves.
The tag is still dangling. Never worn? Just because?
The man is so gracious, accepting my thought.
Few words came between us. I said less than I ought.
This won’t be a movie on Hallmark or cable.
No romance or hero or damsel unable.
Just kindness and industry given for free.
The night peace and good will was offered to me.
“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me – put it into practice – and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9