“Because of Her”
by Charlene Giles
I never thought I’d get caught driving through a blizzard in circles around the mall for Christmas. But as of six PM that Christmas Eve,my freezing-snowy nightmare seemed unending.
Because of her.
It had seemed like such a simple “yes” when she asked for help. I had Fridays off, and all she needed was a ride to do some errands once a month. She had special disabilities and no relatives who could help. I could hardly believe several years had passed. Now our monthly errand runs had morphed from two-hour sprints to marathons of eight hours or more. Treacherous weather made no difference–she still needed groceries and had bills she needed to pay in person. So today I had picked her up at ten AM as usual. As the five o’clock traffic reached its peak, I headed wearily toward her apartment with a sigh of relief. It was then she had announced she absolutely MUST go to the mall “for a few minutes.” No amount of persuasion could deter her. I guess I was in a weakened state after seven hours of fighting the holiday crowds because I found myself dropping her at the main entrance to the mall, reminding her to please be quick. My plan was to wait out front.
That’s when the vigilant, ice-covered, parking lot attendant informed me that I needed to keep moving–I could not wait there as planned. Thus began my spiral into a seemingly never-ending blizzardy nightmare. There were around ten of us in icy vehicles who had been conscripted into this joyless, frozen parade. My windshield wipers whined and complained as they thumped dutifully from side to side, trying to keep up with the relentless sleet/ snow mix that was coming down harder all the time. My eyes burned from the intensity of staying alert, trying to avoid cars as they slipped and slid from side to side around me on the ice-packed pavement. Three times around the mall. Five times around the mall. Ten times around the mall. I lost count. Clearly I would spend all night circling the mall and totally miss the family Christmas Eve celebration we had planned.
Because of her.
Suddenly I felt deep anger surge and the blood rushed to my head. What in the world was going on here?! I had never signed on for grueling conditions like these! Sure, I had told God I’d be available in any way He wanted to use me. But surely He didn’t want me to go through this. Would it be too much for her to say “Thank you” once in a while? No matter how much I gave, it never seemed to be enough.
This was all because of her!
Wait! Could it be? I squinted at the doorway as I slowly eased up on the gas.YES! That was her, slowly shuffling toward my car, trying to avoid the patches of glare ice. She flung open the door, letting in several small drifts of snow before she managed to slam it shut. In her hands was a single, tiny red bag. For THIS I had risked life and limb ice skating around the mall for an hour?!
Without a word I headed toward her apartment. I felt like Santa pulling up with my “sleigh” full of things she had purchased throughout the exhausting day. Santa minus the “Ho-ho-ho!” Just as I pulled my scarf up over my mouth and was heading out the door to help her carry things up the stairs, she stopped me, thrusting the small, cheerful gift bag at me saying, “Merry Christmas! I really wanted to give you something for all the things you do for me.”
My eyes watered. I wiped my nose on my glove. Then I opened the Christmassy red bag and discovered a fragile angel ornament with one word across the bottom– “Friend.”
Amid hugs, I told her thank you from my contrite heart. My “Merry Christmas!” was sincere as I pulled out of sight. All the way home I kept dabbing my cheeks. This was going to be a Christmas to remember.
Because of her.