A Thanksgiving Story

The universe offers us gifts at surprising times and places. Only if we notice and appreciate them can we receive them. They change the fabric of our lives.

I visit Costco rarely and reluctantly. This huge warehouse of material things overwhelms me.  Nonetheless, on the Friday morning after the big October storm, I was in a daze waiting in the Costco checkout line. A woman and a boy stood in front of me and something about them captured me. The boy was slender, blond, maybe 10 or so. But his shoulders were strikingly misaligned. His right shoulder blade, quite a bit higher than his left, protruded noticeably against his slightly dirtied sweatshirt. He wore camouflage pants and boots. His feet were angled in. When he turned his head, I saw that his ears were strangely misshapen.

The woman, too old to be his mother, was simply dressed. Her hair, messy and almost shoulder length, had been colored long ago, the gray now growing in. With schools closed after the storm, she must have been taking care of him. The woman began to talk with him, and I saw her face. Her smile and sweet engagement with him revealed how much she cared for him. She asked him to help her figure out the cost of the items in the cart, encouraging him to do the math, pointing to each item and mentioning the cost. As they laughed together at this math game, her smile wide and playful, I noticed that she was missing several upper teeth.

Their cart was filled with large bags of unshelled peanuts. I commented to her that they must really like peanuts.  “No,” she said, “but the squirrels really do.  And so do the cardinals and the bluejays. They break them and pick them up with their beaks. And for only $6 something a bag, it’s really worth it!” And then she said something about her son, “his father,” pointing to the boy.

They went through the line and disappeared as I piled my stuff onto the conveyor belt. But I kept thinking about them. This grandmother and grandson have few material resources.  Sadly, they both need more medical attention than they will likely get. And it is doubtful that his school can adequately meet his needs. But she loves him, they laugh together, and they buy peanuts for the animals.

This was a gift of the universe to me. In the giant warehouse of material things I was invited to share these loving, caring moments between a woman and her grandson, to witness abundance. Deeply moved and very grateful, I take this gift with me to my own celebration of Thanksgiving.

This entry was posted in Gratitude, Nature of the universe., Thanksgiving, Yoga journey. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to A Thanksgiving Story

  1. It is always inspiring to witness the generosity of others. Especially when we recognize the extent that even those with less have the capacity to give more.

  2. Karen says:

    Yes, Gerry, the generosity of this woman inspired me. She helped me to think more deeply about the meaning of generosity and about abundance. This event happened more than three weeks ago, and the scene continues to be vivid, to move me and to remind me about what is really important.

  3. Liz Pimentel says:

    Very beautiful story…brought tears to my eyes. Reminded me of “gifts” of the universe that I have received. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Karen.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you, Liz. It is amazing how abundant these gifts are, if we just allow ourselves to notice them.

      Speaking of gifts, you might want to check out my story about Mooselook, with photos.


  4. jean zimmer says:

    Simply beautiful, Karen.

  5. Gary Proulx says:

    Thanks for sharing this with us. Thoughtful and insightful. I can picture both of them quite vividly from your description. I think your assumptions are probably correct, thus all the more reason for us to be grateful for all that we have.
    Happy Thanksgiving.

  6. Charles L. Rojer, M.D. says:

    Dear Karen,
    In typical fashion, you chose to see all the beauty in the woman and child and respect their shortcomings and walk away with an unexpected gift which you now share with us. And we can all give thanks!

  7. Stephanie Schamess says:

    Such a moving encounter! It’s not only lovely that even in your Costco daze, you noticed the boy and his grandmother and struck up a conversation, but that you wrote about it so eloquently to share with us.

  8. Ellie Cook says:

    Karen, so beautiful. Something about those checkout lines … we get in touch. You have a novel in you somewhere!

  9. Karen says:

    Dear Jean, Gary, Charles, Stephanie and Ellie,

    Thank you so much for your appreciative comments. This ‘small’ event in my life was so moving to me that I was inspired to share it. Crafting the story was a challenge, but, given your comments, worth the effort. Who knew that teaching yoga would lead to more writing!


  10. pauline mirkin says:

    What a beautiful story. Yes, we are such a materialistic people that we forget about the ones who have so little but are so grateful for what they have and are to be admired for their generosity.

  11. rebecca says:

    So moving — and I’m glad you’re writing! It says so much about you that you were able to see this through, as Stef puts it, the “Costco Daze”!

  12. Joan Heller says:

    Karen, this is a touching love story. Thanks so much for writing about it.

  13. Sigrin Newell says:

    Karen, your story reminded me of a story of my own. In early December a few years ago, I was in Target, buffeted by the Christmas rush. I came out into the parking lot to discover it was already dark. There was a light snow floating down, illuminated by the parking lot lights. I came upon a child, about 2 years old, in a shopping basket pushed by his mother. Under a light, he looked up, held up his hands, saying wonderingly, slowly, “Snow!…Snow!..” It was probably the first time in his life he experienced snow and had a word to go with the magical experience. His mother grumbled, “Yeah, just you wait till you have to shovel it.”

    My heart was sad for her. Instead of being able to see the beauty that her son saw, and enjoy it with him, she stayed stuck in her adult perspective. As we all do, all too often.

    This year we’ve had almost no snow. (Except in Amherst in October!) When it does come, let us remember to go out at night, lift our faces to the magic and whisper, “Snow……Snow….”

  14. Karen says:

    Dear Sigrin,

    Thanks for your story. It’s a poignant reminder of the amazing gifts of wonder and curiosity that children bring us. When we adults ignore or turn aside these gifts, we deprive both ourselves and our children.


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