Today was bitterly cold with heavy winds that blew through our tent. Our boss told us to mark all our trees and wreaths at half price, and even at that people tried to get us to let them have a tree for less! At some point today a couple walked in. The man was blind in one eye and they both looked hard up. The first thing the man said to me was, “We’ve had a bad year. We’re hoping you have a small tree.” I showed them our only table top tree which is flocked, and at half price it was $25, but that was obviously too much for them and they left, looking rather dejected.
Not long after they left I realized that we had a couple Grands out back that our boss said we could sell to people who weren’t able to afford our trees because these trees didn’t look very good. In fact, the trees are no longer on our books. Then I remembered that I have a bunch of DQ coupons I had gotten for my employees who didn’t want them and I could have given them to the couple as well. And someone brought in a fifty year old stand and told us to give it to someone. Why hadn’t I thought of all this while the couple was here? I realized I have become jaded doing this job and I thought of a Christmas legend I once read.
One Christmas morning an old man woke up with a voice very near his ear telling him that Christ was going to come and visit him that very day. He quickly got up and dressed and began cleaning his house. There was a knock at the door and when he answered there was a beggar at the door asking for money.
“Go away,” said the old man. “Can’t you see I’m busy? I have to clean my house because Christ is coming to visit today.” The beggar left.
When the house was all clean, the old man began preparing a delicious feast for Christ. He was in the middle of kneading dough for bread when there was a knock at the door. Opening the door, the old man saw a hungry child asking if he had any food, but he only said, “Go away! I’m fixing this food for Christ. He’s coming to visit today.”
Once the food was prepared, the old man built a fire in his fireplace and sat to wait for Christ. There was a knock on the door and he ran expectantly to the door in case it should be Christ, but it was only an old woman in a thin shawl asking if she could come in and get warm. He sent her away too because there was only room enough at his fire for Christ and him.
The old man sat and waited and waited until midnight and then sadly went to bed. “Christ,” he prayed. “I thought You said You were going to come and visit today. Why didn’t You come?”
“I came to you three times today, and each time you sent me away,” said a voice very near his ear.
I was terribly upset with myself. I prayed fervently that God would either send that couple back or someone in similar circumstances. I promised to do better at recognizing Him when He came in again. I waited and waited. There were a couple customers but they bought what they needed and were gone. Then a couple guys came in. One of them was missing an arm and the other looked a little rough around the edges. They were looking for a tree for an older friend of theirs, but they were on a budget. We showed them the two trees we were selling for $10 out back or a small, nice tree for $22, but then they said they needed a stand as well and they were trying to figure out whether they could afford both a tree and one of our stands.
That was when my eyes were opened and I recognized Christ. I said, “I can’t make any deals on the nicer tree, but it occurs to me that these two Grands are no longer on the books because our boss took them out of circulation. I could let you have one of them for free.” Mark chimed in and told them about the old stand someone had brought in earlier in the day and asked us to give to someone. The two men brightened up and took one of the free trees and the stand saying, “You are helping an old man have a very Merry Christmas. Thank you!”
I thanked Christ for giving me another chance to do it right!