Monday, December 20, 2010

Post Office Perspective

I was staring at three white envelopes, fearing what those measured wrinkles and ink blots meant. They were definitely in my purse for an unruly length of time. I stood there, in the post office, at one of those chest high plastic stations sticking pine cone decorated stamps on our outgoing business.

I wasn't sending Christmas cards like the lady to my right or mailing gift packages like the lady pressing fifty-odd buttons at the stamp machine [that has a much more complicated name than stamp machine but will be called stamp machine because I don't know any better and all I could think two spots back from the lady with the package was stamps stamps stamps like a greedy addict seeing his fix just up ahead. I guess my fix is sending mail on time. Whatever. ] to create her customized postage.  When it was my turn at this said 'stamp machine', I saw options for 1 booklet of stamps, 2 booklets of stamps, 3 booklets of stamps, 4 booklets of stamps, and 5 booklets of stamps, and immediately thought that it was absolutely inconceivable that they didn't have a choice to purchase 177 booklets of stamps. Honestly, I settled for three.

Back to me breathing a happy goodbye to those piranha of guilt hiding in my purse for the past week... or two.  I could hear my mom's voice in my head remarking on the luck in scoring pretty stamps. These winter beauties are quite a steal of a stamp... I am and was digressing until she showed up.

I can always hear them before I can see them. All you momma's out there know exactly who I'm talking about. Those people who come close and celebrate the cute features of your babies. Those people who make smiley faces and look like their day just turned into a brighter realm all because of a little spittle or some flingings of baby arms and some indistinguishable baby babble. Well, those people are always a-okay in my book. Come one. Come all.  

"Aw. Look at that smile. Your boy is so precious."

"Thank you. That's very kind." Sometimes, those words go on auto-pilot. 

She went on to say more than the usual. There were a string of sweet comments, praising what a happy boy Thomas is. The lady wore a light gray coat, softened by the wear of time. When I looked to her face, I saw softness there too. I felt I didn't have the right words to match hers. 

Gesturing to Thomas she went on, "That is my Christmas wish. I wish so bad I had a baby."

The woman is in her sixties. Gorgeous skin. A glow from someone who's really living. Someone you meet and feel instantly comfortable around like an old friend. Joy in her eyes, and yet... I felt an odd sadness, like she didn't mean a grandkid when she spoke of her Christmas wish. And I was right.

She leaned in real close to me and said hushed, "We were never able to have kids. Oh, I wanted them so bad."

I was speechless.  Such a personal moment in this quintessentially public place. I contained myself. I felt my arms wrap around her and yet stay stiff at my sides. She smiled and said one last thing before going back into the cold.  And this one thing seeped straight into my heart as ink to paper.

"Have a very Merry Christmas with your little angel."

I hope the moment came across the lines here. I hope this really isn't just one of those you had to be there. That woman brought me back to life. I'm always wishing away this working woman gig. But it's not about what we don't have. It's all about what we do. I guess, sometimes with much pain, we have to offer up the rest.

Honestly, I felt a little [A LOT] ashamed of myself and my poor attitude as of late. She's right. At my right hand side, I looked down and saw a living, breathing miracle just crying out for my attention. He is my little Christmas angel. And she might be another angel, too.


  1. Beautiful blog. What I needed to get back in the Christmas spirit. What I needed to get past caring that the name I'm painting on a 4" grandbaby stocking is slanting and out-of-whack...and just think about the reason for the season. :)

    (I posted anonymously so no one would know I'm your mother.)

  2. There is a lovely, beautiful lady like that in our church. She is so incredibly kind to all our children, and manages to love on them without seeming *needy,* which is just miraculous to me. I don't think I could have pulled it off. She is one of those people who have taken on a very heavy cross and found a vocation in it -- childlessness is one of those things that can destroy a marriage (I've seen that happen) or, in instances full of grace, seems to make husbands and wives find a higher level of love in being truly all the other person has. And as much as people tend to look at mothers with their hands full and say things like, "You must be a saint," I really think that it's these childless women who carry that longing with fortitude, and who are able to find joy in their lives, who are really being made saints here and now.

    Thanks for a lovely post.

  3. Sally,

    I recently learned that cultures across the socioeconomic spectrum and throughout time and place, have at minimum 10% of women who are childless and, in a sociological perspective, help to support the body of Christ through great service as mothers in an alternate sense of the word.

    It's beautiful to see what each man and woman brings to the table! And it's really inspiring to see pain lifted up in a humble and loving way too.

    Merry Christmas!