13 December 2015

The First Noel

Advent - Day 13

And it came to pass that there was no darkness in all that night, but it was as light as though it was mid-day. And it came to pass that the sun did rise in the morning again, according to its proper order; and they knew that it was the day that the Lord should be born, because of the sing which had been given.                                              3 Nephi 1:19

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by J.R. Labbe from Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Christmas Eve, a year ago, the Walmart in Cleburne, Texas, was jammed and hectic. Dozens of people were waiting in long lines at checkout counters to purchase small appliances, jewelry, toys and clothing that would be next-morning treasures under someone's tree.

The woman standing in cashier Jeffrey Kandt's line seemed to be living on the edge of subsistence. Her clothes were worn; her hands were those of a person who'd worked hard for what she had. She held a single item in her arms as she patiently waited to move to the front of the line. Her son would get the one present he had asked for: a Sony PlayStation2. She had saved all year for this; with tax, the total would be close to $220.

As Kandt scanned the game player's barcode into his register, the woman panicked. Where was her money? It wasn't where she remembered putting it earlier in the day. Her fear became palpable to the customers in line behind her as she started to cry.

Why my line? Kandt thought as he watched the frantic woman search through her clothes. He was going to have to call his manager to void the sale and return the game player to a locked shelf. He'd have to shutdown his checkout line and wait for her to come from another part of the crowded store--not something that any store manager or cashier wants on Christmas Eve, not with people waiting and the clock ticking down to closing time. I'm going to be late for church, Kandt thought.

And then an amazing thing happened. At the back of the line, a man took out his wallet, pulled out $100 and passed it forward. As the cash moved up the line, a twenty dollar bill was added here, a ten dollar bill there. Someone threw in a bunch of ones dug from the bottom of a jeans pocket.

When the collection finally reached the register, Kandt counted $220.

Strangers had fulfilled a poor woman's Christmas wish to give her son his dream gift.

And Jeffrey Kandt wasn't late for church. The people in his line in the Cleburne, Texas, Walmart on Christmas Eve 2002 had become one.

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