christmas-1This week as I walked out of my local grocery store, a woman came up behind me.

“Hi Nancy,” she said. “I just wanted to thank you for your lovely note.”

She works in a local business here and consistently goes out of her way to give good customer service. I had had a particularly disturbing experience in the store a few weeks before and her boss didn’t seem to care at all when I told him how unprofessional one of his employees had been. It only served to emphasize to me what a terrific asset this woman is to his business and it prompted me to drop her a note.

“Receiving it made me so happy,” she said. “It made my week.”

As she said all that, what I heard in my head was, “Merry Christmas, Nancy.” It made me smile.

Prior to that grocery stop, I had met with a coaching client. I gave her some sparkly ornaments and a card that read, “No act of love, however small, is ever wasted.” An Aesop quote. My client read it twice. She lit up.

“I love this message,” she said.

I had selected it for her.

“It’s beautiful,” she said.

As she said that, what I heard in my head was, “Merry Christmas, Nancy.” It made me smile.

The other day I listened to a voice mail on my phone. It was for a guy named Ray. It was about a job and the person calling was telling him what time to show up to load trucks. A wrong number. Typically I wouldn’t think twice, just hit delete. But I was afraid Ray would lose a much-needed opportunity to work, so I called to tell the guy he’d left his message in the wrong place.

“I really appreciate the call,” he said.

What I heard in my head was, “Merry Christmas, Nancy.”

My doorbell rang the other day. I buzzed the person in, not knowing who it was but fairly sure it was a deliveryman dropping off a package for someone in the building. For security purposes, it’s better the packages are left inside our locked front door. It was indeed the FedEx guy.

“I’m sorry to disturb you,” he said. “This one’s for your neighbor.”

“It’s OK,” I said.

What I heard in my head is, “Merry Christmas, Nancy.”

While visiting my mother for a go at our annual cookie baking, she talked me into getting on a step ladder and draping holly garland over her breakfront in the dining room and arranging all the Christmas Lenox in her curio cabinet in the living room. We also sorted through gifts bought and needed on her list.

“You really helped organize me,” she said.

What I heard in my head was, “Merry Christmas, Nancy.”

The other day in my snazzy red rental car, an exclamation point lit up on the dashboard. I was still parked, so did a quick search on my phone to find out what it meant. Low tire pressure. Hmmmm. My ride back to return the car would be about an hour-plus of freeway driving. I pulled out, but in a half hour or so I started to worry and pulled into a gas station. I explained my dilemma to the attendant and asked if he could help me put air in the tires. He seemed a little put out, but then jumped in enthusiastically and noted that the back passenger tire had a nail in it. He filled it up enough to make the dashboard icon disappear.

“I really appreciate it,” I said, handing him a $5 bill. “Merry Christmas.”

His eyes locked on mine for a moment. I saw appreciation there. And surprise.

What I heard in my head was, “Merry Christmas, Nancy.”

A friend sent me in the mail a card with a picture of a pretty wooden door on the front. A Savannah door, it said on the back. In it she thanked me for being a great travel buddy. Enclosed was a piece of paper with this timely quote from Voltaire:

Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.

Everything in this column, this is me singing in the lifeboat in a sea of divisive politics, terrorism, emotional uncertainty, and fear mongering. I’m not exactly belting out a tune, but I am singing. And focusing on how important presence is, mine and yours, to other human beings.

Hear it loud and clear.