NEVER SAY “NO” TO A BLESSING
I know that Christmas is over, but we can still see it in the rear-view mirror of our memory. When I read this story, I wanted to share it with you as the author asked. It was written by Dr. Laura Estes, a Music & Voice Teacher, and a proud supporter of our military. So here is something to keep your Christmas spirit alive.
She wrote that all she really wanted for Christmas was to do something to support our troops. She prayed about this goal daily until she thought she had received an answer, about how to help the troops. Her Christmas Wish started as a yearly donation drive in which her school gathers and donates items to the military. The trip took two months to complete, and the community was very willing to help in the effort. This year, they gathered enough for many troops and started wondering how much it would cost to send all of it overseas. It was very costly, as it turned out.
As she lugged all the heavy packages to the Postal Annex with her three-year-old son in tow, there was an older gentleman who held the door for her. He was a tall, slender man with wavy silver-grey hair, warm, brown eyes, and a deep, richly toned melodic voice. (She is a singer, music teacher and voice teacher, so she paid particular attention to how someone sounds when they speak, their diction, any accent, and even any inflection detected in their voice.)
He asked many questions about where the packages were going, did she have family in the military, why she had decided to do this project in the first place. She laid out the complete story to him and explained the compelling feeling that “The Lord was calling her to do something.” Although she did not currently have family in the military, many in her family on both sides had served proudly over the years. He then asked what could he do to help. She explained that it would be expensive and a couple of dollars to help pay for postage would be very much appreciated. She was caught off guard when he said he would help.
They talked about life, our soldiers, family, her work, and religion while each care package was carefully weighed and sealed with all the proper customs forms. He was an active listener and good conversationalist. It was a cold, crisp, December evening and the day turned quickly to evening, so she offered to get everyone coffee next door. When she returned, he was still there. By now, there was a small crowd of people entering the Postal Annex, and when they saw what she was doing many asked the same questions. She answered them as they came and went, busily running after the next errand on their list. With less than a week before Christmas, most people just walked right on by. Not this man, he waited patiently, drank his coffee, and just took the time to speak with her like he had all the time in the world. It turned out, he happened to be a veteran himself. He, Charles, had also served our country proudly some years ago. Charles said he never received any packages. All the many packages were finally ready to be mailed off. When the total came up, it was $170.00!! Her mind reeled! She didn’t have that kind of money and was trying to think of ways to leave or store the packages until she could get more money.
Without so much as a word, Charles quickly paid for the entire mailing!! She was too stunned to speak but stumbled to find the words as she realized what had just happened. Feeling embarrassed, she said, “No, I can’t accept this kind of gift.” She was concerned that he might also not have this kind of money and it would put his family in hardship. Then, one lady walked over and told her plainly that she was being foolish not to accept this man’s generosity. By refusing the money, she would ruin his blessing.
She finally relented but was so overcome with a grateful, thankful heart her eyes welled up with tears. Everyone in the Annex suddenly got quiet. This complete stranger had fulfilled her Christmas Wish! As she pondered this fact and how the day was shaping up, she remembers thanking him repeatedly, not finding just the right words to express her most profound gratitude. After chasing her three-year-old around to get ready to leave, she was offered yet another blessing from another complete stranger. This man removed a necklace with a gold cross and offered it to her son. She silently wondered, “Such amazing gifts, do I really deserve this?” So once again she whispered to him, “I just can’t take your necklace.” Those around her the same thing Charles did, that by refusing to accept his gift she was interfering with his blessing. She didn’t know what else to say. She put the necklace around her son’s neck. One lady told her this kind gesture by this man was a father’s way of treating a son.
The overwhelming evidence of love, compassion, and willingness to help and give left her speechless. Others in the Annex were overcome as well. Tears welled in their eyes, and the air was suddenly transformed and thick with emotions. None of them, it seemed, had experienced the good side of the human spirit in quite some time. Charles then handed me an envelope and said it was for her. She just shook her head in disbelief. “I don’t think I can accept this,” she blurted out. “Oh yes you can”, Charles began, “because you deserve it. Do something for yourself and spread some Christmas cheer.” “Are you sure? She asked?” Charles looked her straight into her eyes and calmly said,” Everything is going to be okay. Open it after I leave.” They spoke for a few minutes longer. “Thank you…for everything Charles,” she said. Walking out the door, he said, “Have a Merry Christmas” and then he quickly disappeared into the night.
By this time, most people had left, and it was near closing time. And just as she was about to go she remembered the envelope. She quickly opened it and nearly fainted!! Inside was 500.00 dollars! Based on the previous mailings, it was about the amount she needed to mail the remaining care packages. As she left for home, she was more than stunned and began to cry. She called the volunteers together and told the story. They were all in awe in light of the recent events. She explained to them if they saw Charles, to please report to him that she was spending the money on the postage to send the packages and some Christmas Cheer. They said they would.
The next day, she went back and happily mailed most of the remaining packages, 50 or more, so it is an enormous task. She also spread some Christmas cheer by buying cake slices for some children and others nearby. She thought to herself, “Charles, wherever you are, I think you would be pleased to know that because of you, hundreds of American troops will receive just what they wanted this holiday season. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” She had just experienced the very unexpected, most amazing Christmas gifts she had ever received or ever would receive.
Charles and men like him are everyday heroes, angels on earth in a sense. The man who offered his necklace to her son. People who do extraordinary things for complete strangers to save a life, lend a hand, or extend a helpful gesture to them. So if this story touched your heart, pray for Laura and all those who are helping her with the beautiful expression of support. Having served in the military nine years, four of them overseas, I can tell you that letters, cards, and packages from home are treated as though they were brought by the three wise men. If you know of someone overseas right now, find a way to tell them you are praying for them. That in itself is a gift. – Dr. Robert R Seyda