A nice man stopped by my door today. He was selling beautiful freshly made wreaths. He said that he had originally been selling them for $20, but since it was Christmas, he would take $10. The wreath was lovely, with fresh fir boughs, pinecones, sprays of ornaments. Really nice. Worth the $20 for sure. Except I didn’t have $20 to give him. Or even $10. What little money we’d saved for the holiday had been spent, and while we have abundance of food and fun and gifts and love, at the moment we don’t have any money.
But he looked like it was important, and the wreath was truly lovely, so I said I’d check to see. I left him on the doorstep while I looked through my purse, asked Mr. Magpie for his wallet. Nothing. No cash in the house.
Back at the door, I said I was sorry, I didn’t have cash. I think he could tell that I meant it, that I really wanted to buy the wreath. He seemed like he really needed to sell it.
“What about $5?” he said. “It’s Christmas.”
I said to hang on a second and I went in the house again. I raided all of my change drawers and piggy banks. I went back to the door.
I said, “I am so sorry, I don’t have enough.” I showed him the change in my hands.
“How much do you have there?” he asked. I counted it. $4.15. He said that was good enough.
He had said several times that it was Christmas. He said it like he meant it was a time to be generous, to give. I agree. So I tried to give him the money without taking the wreath.
“Here, why don’t you just take this, and sell that wreath to someone else,” I said.
“No,” he said, “you take it. It’s Christmas.”
“Are you sure? I don’t want to take it for so little,” I said.
“You take it,” he said. “It is time to be home with my family. I have these wreaths hanging in my house and they make everyone happy, because they look so nice. I want everyone to be happy. It is Christmas.”
And then he handed me the wreath and nodded as if to say, that’s done then.
I took the wreath and hung it on my door. “It’s beautiful,” I said. “Bless you.”
As he left, I nearly cried. Here I had thought that he was saying it was Christmas because he wanted me to be inspired to give to him, but he was the one who gave to me.
I don’t know if I did the right thing or not, but what’s done is done. I have a beautiful wreath on my door for Christmas, and I met a kindhearted man who sold me a lovely wreath for four dollars and fifteen cents in change. Who was helping who? I’m not sure I know. Maybe we helped each other.
* * *
Something I believe, that I’ve seen over and over again, is that we all get little nudges here and there. Things people say or do that stick with us, that help us move forward into new places in our hearts and minds. Sometimes the message is immediately obvious, and sometimes, like today, it takes some pondering.
So in the midst of the next couple of days of family and gifts and food and fun, a little part of me will be turning this over in my mind. What is the lesson of the man with the wreath? I mean, beyond the lessons of generosity and assumptions and personal finance and love. What is the lesson that’s just for me? I look forward to seeing the answer unfold.
Wherever you are and whatever you are doing tonight and tomorrow, I hope that you are getting the little nudges you need to lead you where you need to go.