Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Christmas Story

“Are there any books on ships where you’re looking,” I asked the middle-aged woman sitting on the floor of the Bookworm’s children’s section.
“No,” she replied. “These are all animal books. I’m looking for books on different animals for a little girl.”
“And I’m looking for books on ships and caves for a little boy who’s six,” I said. I explained that I had taken two ornaments from the giving tree in King Soopers. One was for a little girl who wanted ‘Dora’. I was able to purchase a doll and coloring book, keeping to the agreement to spend under $20. And the boy wanted picture books of ships and caves and also bugs, which I had found the day before.
But for the better part of two days, I had been to every book store in the area, looking for books on ships and caves, to fulfill his Christmas wish.
Nothing had turned up and I was getting discouraged. I felt that this request of his was probably the bulk of his Christmas, or maybe the whole of it.
So I had been diligent.
As I was driving across town, disappointed once again after visiting another local bookstore’s children’s and adult sections, I suddenly flashed on the Bookworm. I’m an old friend of the store and the woman who began it long ago. It’s a favorite haunt of mine. However, I hadn’t wanted to buy a used book for this child, yet I was at my wit’s end.
So here I was talking to this woman. I had just found the only children’s book on ships in the city of Boulder, in mint condition, but as she and I were speaking, I found two picture books on caves. I had hit the jackpot!
She relayed to me that the books she was looking for were for a little girl who had also requested them through an agency. She was one of three requests this woman had taken on. A moment of real understanding passed between us.
After thanking her for our conversation and feeling like I had just met a kindred spirit, I went up to the front counter to ask where the adult ‘ship’ section might be.
In through the door came a young woman and her three year old daughter, who was saying she wanted Dora books. The store clerk directed them to the children’s section as she led me to the shelves where I might find another book on boats.
Not finding anything else, I went back to the register to purchase what I had found for this little boy. En route, I heard squeals of joy and told the woman behind the counter that the young girl must have found the Dora books.
In the next minute, she laid the two books on the counter with relish. I smiled at her enthusiasm and her mom told her they needed to wait in line, as I was not done yet.
Her mom spoke up as told the clerk, “Put this woman’s books on my account.”
I turned and stared at her.
“I have so much credit. Please, I’d like to pay for them.”
“Thank you,” I managed and told her what these books were for.
“Even better,” she said as a wide smile played across her face.
“You’re sure?” I questioned.
“Absolutely,” she said.
When the books totaled $20. (because I had also found a book on a rescued dog for my sister) I raised an eyebrow at her and she nodded.
I was so grateful, so moved. My heart was full as I left the store, thanking her one last time. This was my Christmas Story. What a generous heart!

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