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.

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