Stressed Woman Shopping Christmas Gifts For Family Meets An Angel At The Chocolate Shop.

As I hustled and bustled into each and every store, trying to find last-minute Christmas gifts for friends and family, I could feel the stress of the holidays upon me. Life would change after I walked into a high-end chocolate shop where not even the fancy silk bows around the boxes could have prepared me for the day’s unraveling.

What struck me was an older African American woman, who gently caressed the glass with her finger. She looked as if she was dressed in her Sunday best, with coiffed hair and shoes that matched her purse. There was something about her that made me hover closely. I went behind her and made motions with my hands to the salesperson —signing that she looked as if she was going to cry. As if I gave a director’s signal, the actress behind the counter asked on cue, “Can I help you with anything?”

“Oh,” the lady sighed. “This was what my husband bought me each and every Christmas,” pointing to the caramel-filled milk chocolates. “This is my first year without him. We were married for forty-nine years. My husband was a good man and he bought me caramels every Christmas, knowing how much I loved them.” Her voice was soft, her finger shook a little, but her words floated on air. “At first, it was just a couple, one for him, one for me—’cause we didn’t have much money. But at the end, he’d have them wrapped in those fancy boxes. And then he’d give me a certain number and make it special, like when we added our first baby, I got three that year and then oh, it was up to quite a bit with my own children, grandchildren and grandbabies.” She chuckled.

“We would have been married fifty years this Christmas.” My heart sank. It was as if she turned the faucet on in her soul and all the love and memories came pouring out. It was difficult for me to hold back my own tears as her story touched me deeply.

She turned and looked at me with a smile and looked back at the glass and quietly said, “I still remember my first Christmas when he gave me two. It was just as special the first time as it has been all these years.” She looked down and said in a whisper, “I’d give anything to just have him again.” She wiped a tear from her face with a handkerchief she kept tucked in her sleeve. She gently put the cloth back into her purse and walked out of the store.

The saleslady just looked at me and said, “Wow.”

I told the saleslady that I wanted to buy the lady a bag of chocolates with caramel in them and asked if she would be willing to run down the mall to give them to her if I kept an eye on the store, knowing I could sneak out the other direction and the lady would never see me. She loved the idea and charged me only 50% for the bag (which was very expensive, mind you).

“What do you want me to say?” she asked.

“Tell her an angel sent them.”

She ran away with the bag with so much glee in her step and returned, face wet from crying.

“That was such a sweet thing you did for her,” she said to me. “What a gift of love from a stranger.”

“No,” I said, matter-of-factly. “The truth is, her story of devoted love was a gift to me.” I had been rushing around to buy meaningless gifts for a holiday that had become more commercial than heartfelt. That lady had made me slow down and think about the people I loved and the ways I could show them how I felt through thoughtful gifts and gestures.

The true Christmas angel that day in the mall was not me, but a beautiful woman who passed through my life at just the right time—in a chocolate shop, in the middle of the mall.

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